BOISE — Lawmakers fearful the U.S. Supreme Court might one day reverse itself on the issue of individual gun rights aim to change the Idaho Constitution’s definition of a militia to include all the state’s adults.
That way, argued Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, Wednesday in the Senate State Affairs Committee, the federal government could never swoop in and disarm residents.
Rice wants to put the amendment before voters in the November 2014 election, calling it an important “backstop” to existing protections of individual gun rights.
“It gives the state standing to defend (gun rights) if the federal government were to ban weapons,” Rice said. “It would be a very good argument that we would probably win in court if the feds were to attempt to endorse anything.”
The bill was printed Wednesday. Rice said it would be introduced next session.
For now, however, Rice just wants to get people talking about the issue.
Rice says gun ownership surpassed all other matters before the 2013 Idaho Legislature in his constituents’ concerns — including the insurance exchange and proposed personal property tax repeal — based on opinions of people who have contacted him.
“I have had more emails about the Second Amendment and asking us to keep and bear arms against the federal government than I have anything else,” Rice said.
The bill would amend the state Constitution to include all Idaho residents as part of a state militia. Rice said the Idaho Constitution now only identifies males 18 to 45 for militia enrollment.
Rice said he does not think current federal proposals to ban some weapons and large ammunition clips will become law, but said future action by the federal government is unpredictable.
“This isn’t, ‘We’re mad at the federal government,’ ” Rice said. “This is, ‘We’ll be able to go into court with the best legal argument against any gun control.’ ”
- The Associated Press contributed to this story.