By Ben Olson
The Idaho House of Representatives voted down a gun control bill Tuesday that would have prevented convicted domestic abusers from owning firearms.
The Associated Press reported the House GOP members voted 39-31 to prevent the measure from moving to the Senate after critics of the bill argued that it infringed upon the Second Amendment.
“Statistics show if people want to have access to a gun, they will,” Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls, told the AP. “But there’s just no way to enforce it.”
The Idaho Attorney General’s office released an opinion countering that the bill did not violate constitutional rights.
House Bill 585 would have made it a misdemeanor for people convicted of domestic violence to possess firearms within two years of the convictions of the crimes. Abusers would have been required to follow an honor system in turning in guns they already own. Currently, federal law already bans anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charge from owning a firearm, but state laws must match the federal statute in order for local officials and judges to enforce the ban. HB 585 would have seen Idaho’s laws in compliance with the federal statute.
Twenty Republicans joined the House’s 11 Democrats in support of the bill. Law enforcement agencies also supported the bill, reported the AP, arguing it would help them better protect against communities.
North Idaho representatives Heather Scott and Sage Dixon both voted against the bill.
“I voted no because it essentially promotes an unconstitutional action by our State Government,” wrote Dixon when asked why he voted against the bill. “Also, I was concerned about the low threshold of a misdemeanor charge restricting one’s ability to possess a firearm.”
Dixon acknowledged it wasn’t an easy decision to make, and that he wasn’t certain of his final vote until the end of debate.
“The bill was almost narrow enough to gain my support, mainly because it dealt with a specific group, and was limited in duration,” he wrote. “But the reasons cited above caused me to vote no.”
Rep. Scott was also contacted for comment regarding her no vote on the bill but did not respond by press time.