CONCORD – According to Guns and Ammo’s most recent annual ranking of U.S. states, New Hampshire gets a favorable writeup. (Unfortunately, its ranking is only #25.)
The Live Free or Die state is notably free when it comes to gun ownership. New Hampshire imposes no laws more restrictive than the federal statues[sic] when it comes to the purchase, sale or transfer of any firearm. New Hampshire is one of the only “shall-issue” concealed carry states in the Northeast, and residents are issued permits for only $10, while nonresidents pay $100. Long guns cannot be transported in a vehicle while loaded, but no other restrictions are imposed on non-NFA rifles or shotguns. New Hampshire has a Stand Your Ground law that imposes no duty to retreat on citizens defending themselves with deadly force. The worst thing for gun owners in New Hampshire (around a third of the state’s population) is their proximity to so many states with strict gun control laws. Great caution must be taken when transporting firearms, ammo and magazines outside of the state. A bill that would have required universal background checks was defeated in the state legislature.
But like many states, New Hampshire has been targeted by wealthy anti-gun liberals such as Michael Bloomberg. Since the horrible incident in Newtown, CT, anti-gun lobbyists have traveled to the Granite State. They have tried to convince the legislature that there is some sort of problem here that needs fixing. This is despite the fact that New Hampshire has the 47th lowest violent crime rate in the country.
In which direction is the Granite State trending? Is it moving towards more, or less, gun freedom? Let’s review the status of some of this legislative session’s high impact firearms legislation in New Hampshire:
Current Session Firearms Legislation in New Hampshire
HB582 would repeal the license requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver. This bill was retained in committee on March 5th. Impact: inconclusive
HB598 would have redefined the legal definition of deadly force from assault or confinement “with the purpose of causing…risk…” to simply “which results in death or permanent loss or impairment of any part of the body.” (in other words, greatly narrowing its scope). It was ruled Inexpedient to Legislate (i.e. killed) on March 11th. Impact: anti-gun freedom
HB650 would require background checks for commercial firearms sales. While nominally about keeping guns out of the hands of “felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill”, this bill would have outlawed many private sales of firearms. It also would have slowed the process of completing the sale of a firearm by requiring individuals to do so via a licensed firearms dealer. Ruled Inexpedient to Legislate on March 11th. Impact: pro-gun freedom
HB685 would prohibit a state agency, state employee, or political subdivision from enforcing any federal law regarding a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition. Ruled Inexpedient to Legislate on March 11th. Impact: anti-gun freedom
SB116 is a Senate version of HB582 and would also repeal the license requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver. This bill was passed by the NH Senate and will be voted on by the House some time in May. Impact: pro-gun freedom
It’s hard to draw a conclusion from the list above. We asked Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, who describes himself as a “foaming at the mouth gun rights advocate”, his opinion.
“I am hoping with SB116, Constitutional Carry once it arrives on Governor Hassan’s desk, that she just looks the other way and allows it to become law without her signature and not veto it. I will be shocked if she signs SB116”, said Burt.
“Governor Hassan knows that many Democrat voters support Constitutional Carry. Sadly none are in the Senate. …if she vetoes SB116 we have HB582, another Constitutional Carry bill which I co-sponsored that was retained in the House Criminal Justice committee… We will have HB582 sitting on her desk next year at election time.
With SB116, HB582, Vermont and now Maine having Constitutional Carry, I believe New Hampshire could be a Constitutional Carry state by September 2016.”