Crossposted from StopGunMadness.org
LEAP Forward is tracking six pieces of legislation so far introduced in the New Hampshire state legislature - known in that state as the “General Court.” These bills, all of which are being graded as worthy of support, cover subjects like guns on school property and establishing protective orders for vulnerable adults. All told, 37 different members of the state House of Representatives from both parties have signed on to at least one piece of gun regulatory legislation, and four of the bills were singled out by the New Hampshire Medical Society as part of their advocacy on this issue.
Past president of the NHMS Dr. Leonard Korn wrote about why in Seacoast Online:
The statistics of gun violence in our country are so alarming, with an average of 25 times the incidence of gun homicides compared with other high-income countries, with more than 100 deaths by homicide and suicide by guns per day including seven children killed per week. In the past month of January the incidence of mass shootings was particularly striking, with on average one mass shooting in the United States per day (www.gunviolencearchive.org). It has of course been frustrating that the political environment at both state and federal levels has systematically been ignoring this public health crisis because of the powerful influence of the NRA. That tide of influence is fortunately waning, as the country has witnessed too many murders and suicides by guns, and in particular too many mass murders at schools, churches, synagogues, concerts, theaters, restaurants and bars to ignore this public health epidemic any longer.
The specific bills singled out by NMHS and being scored by LEAP Forward are:
HB 109 - closing background check loopholes related to internet gun sales;
HB 514 - requiring a seven day waiting period between purchasing and taking receipt of a firearm;
HB 687 - an extreme risk protection order bill that allows parents and family members to ask police to remove firearms from anyone deemed a threat to themselves or others;
HB 564 - prohibiting guns in schools.
All four bills are scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, February 13 in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
Since 2011, the state of New Hampshire has had authority over the sale, ownership, use, possession and permitting of all firearms in the state. However, this new bill would redistribute some of that power to individual school districts and allow them to enforce gun-free zones.
Currently, HB 101 is in the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives. After a public hearing on the bill, the Committee on Education will vote on whether it should pass, would be inexpedient to legislate or should be studied further.
College Democrats president Gigi Gunderson ’21 said she supports the bill.
“This bill comes at a pertinent time in the question of the tension between common sense gun regulation and personal gun ownership, especially in a state like New Hampshire where the culture is ‘Live Free or Die,’” Gunderson said. “We continue to support policies that make our schools and New Hampshire residents safer.”
New Hampshire Democrats have proposed legislation that would give districts the ability to make schools gun-free zones. From Tim Camerato, Valley News:
“The minute you let someone into the building with a gun, with a visual gun, these kids, who have no idea whether they’re looking at a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun, are terrorized,” said State Rep. Susan Ford, D-Easton, a retired school principal who supports the bill.
Ford said children are used to seeing police officers with guns, but members of the public openly carrying through hallways would cause students to fear an imminent school shooting.
Democrats have control of both chambers of the state legislature, but may face a veto from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. LEAP Forward is tracking action on HB 101 and will be grading actions in support of the bill.
HB 101 would allow a school district to adopt and enforce gun-free zones. Current state law gives the state Legislature exclusive control over gun-related legislation and restrictions, forbidding any local ordinances on the subject.
HB 101 would carve out an exemption from that law for school districts, administrative units or chartered public schools.
Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, tried unsuccessfully to introduce such a bill last year, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, but failed in party-line votes.
HB 109, which includes Hennessey as a Senate sponsor, would require background checks for all commercial firearms sales, including gun shows, in an attempt to close the so-called “gun show loophole.”
LEAP Forward is tracking both these bills and will be grading support for both.