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Gun legislation seeks to protect domestic violence victims

Posted: 5:48 PM, Feb 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-14 00:48:28Z

The Idaho House Judiciary & Rules Committee has agreed to print a bill preventing those found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning a gun. 

"The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said. 

The legislation would prohibit people convicted of domestic violence from having guns by making it a misdemeanor for anyone who has been convicted within the last two years of assault or battery against a household member to possess a firearm. A violation of this provision would be punishable as a misdemeanor.

The proposal applies to people who are already prohibited by federal law from owning or possessing a firearm.

The bil is close to the hearts of sisters Judy and Laura Diaz. Their mother, Amparo Godinez, was 39-years-old when she was killed in her Wider home by her husband, Erasmo Diaz. 

Erasmo Diaz was arrested in July 2008 after pushing and striking Godinez during an argument. Diaz was arrested and charged with three felony counts of aggravated battery. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and placed on probation for a year.

A judge returned three handguns confiscated from Diaz, despite the fact federal law forbade him going forward from owning a firearm. Idaho has no corresponding state law, meaning the judge had no other recourse.

Judy said Idaho can do more to protect victims of domestic violence. 

"I feel like this is a really great step toward that direction to hopefully lead us into more opportunity to focus on this vulnerable population in order to be there for them and better support them," Judy said. 

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation. 

The bill awaits a full legislative hearing.