February 16, 2017
By Rep. Christy Zito
My ‘Castle Doctrine’ bill is written by a noted gun rights attorney, but it has hit a major roadblock, writes Rep. Christy Zito.
The Castle Doctrine is a simple but important concept. People should be able to defend themselves, their families and their property from intruders and potential attackers—using deadly force if necessary. Idaho has a Castle Doctrine, but the law is outdated and weak. This legislative session, I have a bill to improve, strengthen and update our Castle Doctrine.
Unfortunately, the bill has hit a major roadblock, House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona. He refuses to grant a hearing and allow the committee to vote on this important bill. The chairman has falsely alleged my lack of cooperation.
I have been asking Chairman Loertscher for a hearing in the State Affairs Committee, for the Self Defense Protection Bill or “Castle Doctrine” since the beginning of the session.
The chairman expressed concerns to me about the language of the bill several times. I took notes and made proper adjustments. I even arranged for noted gun rights attorney, Alexandria Kincaid, to come to the capitol to meet Chairman Loertscher. She is the original author of the legislation, one of the foremost firearms law experts in the United States and a resident of Idaho.
We met together with Chairman Loertscher and House Judiciary and Rules Chairman Lynn Luker, R-Boise, who is an attorney himself. In this meeting Ms. Kincaid listened to their concerns and addressed each one of them. The bill was rewritten, improved and returned to Chairman Loertscher.
After further attempts to schedule a hearing, and further frivolous stalls from Chairman Loertscher, he now refuses to respond to my inquiries. I serve on the State Affairs Committee and see Chairman Loertscher every morning, but he is entrenched and will not budge.
There are 15 current co-sponsors of this bill. I have made it very clear I am here to work for the people and to work with leadership to accomplish the mandate of the citizens who elected us to do their will. This is a responsibility that I and the 15 strong cosponsors of this bill do not take lightly. I have done everything asked of me by the chairman to bring this bill to a full hearing before the committee.
Committees are assembled to consider legislation. They work best when there is open debate and fair discussion on the issues. If there really are problems with a bill, the committee will be instructive and helpful. Committees should have every opportunity to consider bills and then vote. One chairman who takes matters into his own hands, destroys the representative government we have.
The people of Idaho need a new Castle Doctrine and I am working to make it happen. The State Affairs committee members have been elected and trusted by their fellow citizens to consider bills and to represent their interests. The committee has representatives from all across Idaho. They and all Idahoans deserve a voice in the legislative process—otherwise this “committee” becomes a mini-dictatorship.
Idahoans who value their gun rights should contact Chairman Loertscher and the House State Affairs Committee to let them know the bill should be heard.