Rep. Kerby mischaracterizes his gun bill vote
By Fred Birnbaum, Idaho Freedom Action

In a mailer, Idaho Freedom Action took Rep. Ryan Kerby to task for his vote to ban gun ownership. Recently, on these pages, Rep. Ryan Kerby defended his vote. Highlighted below are several facts about House Bill 585 that Rep. Kerby omitted, or simply got wrong.

HB 585 would have banned gun ownership as follows: “A person who has been convicted of domestic violence who purchases, owns, possesses or has under his custody or control any firearm, within two (2) years of his conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” Simply stated, because the bill added a misdemeanor conviction as a trigger to prohibit gun possession (current state law requires felony conviction), Rep. Kerby voted to unreasonably restrict gun ownership. 

Here’s where Rep. Kerby erred. First, the bill failed to pass the House on 39 to 31 vote, with Rep. Kerby joining the entire Democratic caucus in support of the bill. Second, from a state constitution perspective, the bill was questionable. Article I, Section 11 of the Idaho State Constitution clearly states, “Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony.” In another part of Section 11 restrictions are also tied to felony convictions. 

Finally, Rep. Kerby stated in his letter-to-the-editor, “This year’s House Bill 585 was about people convicted of domestic violence -- convicted of beating their spouses or children.” Rep. Kerby is not correct is his description of the bill, as a simple reading of current Idaho code demonstrates. Section 18-901 of Idaho code clearly identifies a credible threat as sufficient to warrant a charge of misdemeanor domestic assault. Thus, Rep. Kerby is confusing a felony conviction, which currently prohibits a person from possessing a firearm, with a misdemeanor conviction, which the failed bill, H585, added as an additional reason to ban possession.

Perhaps Rep. Kerby thought that a two-year ban on possession is not an unreasonable restriction. However, if one misdemeanor can be used to ban possession, it is conceivable that any misdemeanor could be used to ban the possession of firearms.  Idaho Freedom Action is justified in its criticism of Rep. Kerby’s vote. Rep. Kerby voted to unreasonably restrict gun ownership with the addition of a misdemeanor conviction as a reason for prohibition.