Boise – Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, has introduced a proposal in the House Judiciary and Rules Committee to 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 –up to six months in jail and/or less than $1,000 fine. 

The proposal applies to people who are already prohibited by federal law from owning or possessing a firearm and empowers Idaho law enforcement to protect women and families from violent abusers. This policy stays in line with 28 others states and the District of Columbia where people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence are prohibited from buying or possessing guns.

Working with Rep. Wintrow worked on this legislation are survivors of guns violence, Laura and Judy Diaz, daughters of Amparo Godinez Diaz, whose story is detailed below, as well as Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue, and Annie Pelletier of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. 

Rep. Wintrow said she believes this law would help to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred in Wilder in 2015, when Amparo Godinez Sanchez was murdered by her husband, Erasmo Diaz. (See Idaho Statesman article.)

Wintrow said domestic violence affects millions of women across the country, and guns in the hands of domestic abusers can turn abuse into murder.  Women in the U.S. are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries, making this country the most dangerous in the developed world when it comes to gun violence against women.

Idaho is no exception from these disturbing national trends. In 2016, the Idaho State Police reported 6,084 incidents of violence between spouses, ex-spouses, and those in dating relationships. Each day in Idaho, more than 850 victims of domestic violence and their children seek safety and services from community-based domestic violence programs.