RSA 159:4 – It All Depends on What “With” Means

Big news in New Hampshire, below the fold, on the front page of the Manchester paper. The state supreme court, deciding on the question–“Does the definition of a “loaded pistol or revolver” (under RSA 159:4 (2002) encompass … a firearm with no cartridge in the firearm, and no magazine in the magazine well(,) but with a loaded magazine located next to it and easily accessible?“–ruled it did not.

The pertinent part of the statute, according to the court, is: “A loaded pistol or revolver shall include any pistol or revolver with a magazine, cylinder, chamber or clip in which there are loaded cartridges.”unloaded pistol

The court said for a pistol or revolver to be considered “loaded” under the state statute, it must contain a cartridge in the chamber or must contain a magazine, cylinder, or clip inserted in or otherwise adjoined to the firearm such that it can be discharged through normal operation.

While I found this encouraging (and painfully obvious) and consider it a win for common sense for gun owners , and since when does a liberal not understand the difference between second base and home plate, that was not precisely why this article caught my attention.

Both sides, the State Attorney Generals office and the defendant, Oriel Dor–who was challenging his arrest for “knowingly carry(ing) a loaded pistol as defined in RSA 159:4 in a vehicle without a valid license,” based their case on the meaning of “with” in the statute.  According to the Union Leader…

Dor, … argued the word “with” should be interpreted narrowly as “joined to” per Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, 2002 edition, so that a “loaded pistol or revolver encompasses only a firearm that contains one or more cartridges.”

The state contended “with” should be interpreted broadly as “denoting nearness, agreement, or connection” per Webster’s New Dictionary and Thesaurus of 1990, so that a “loaded pistol or revolver” encompasses a firearm that contains no cartridges but is located near a loaded magazine or clip.

So the progressives who have been running the NH AG’s office and have been continuously directed by progressive Democrat governors for years, took a23 year trip in the way-back machine, 12 years past the statute itself, into a previous century, to find a definition of ‘with’ that most suited their desired outcome. Nice to see that the AG’s office can dig through the sands of time when it suits them.

What’s next, adherence to original intent in the Constitution?


Steve is a New Hampshire resident, blogger, and activist. A member of the 603 Alliance, NHCMP, NHRVC, LFGC, and the host of GrokTALK! Please Note: My opinions are my own and not those of my Family, employers, politicians, campaigns, or other contributors or commenters at GraniteGrok