The NH Gun Line Must Go - Granite Grok

The NH Gun Line Must Go

Sean List, a partner with Backus, Meyer & Branch, LLP, in Manchester, NH, wrote this excellent piece explaining why the NH Gun Line is the 2nd amendment’s choke point in New Hampshire and why it must be shut down.

The New Hampshire Gun Line, a division of the Department of Safety Permits and Licensing Unit, has created a constitutional crisis in New Hampshire. As I write this message, the Gun Line is actively infringing upon the rights of law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns and simultaneously preventing the lawful return of firearms temporarily seized in connection with court hearings.

In a nod to George Orwell, the Gun Line has utterly denied New Hampshire citizens due process while blaming their bureaucratic ineffectiveness on Covid-19 and the related surge in gun sales.

The Gun Line currently performs all background checks for the purchase of handguns from dealers in the Granite State. The Gun Line also performs background checks when individuals motion the Court for the return of firearms that have been temporarily seized.

As required by federal law, all of these checks are done using the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”). Rifles and shotguns are also subject to a NICS check, but the FBI does the administration of these checks directly without the unnecessary expense and delay that comes with the Gun Line.

Our federal tax dollars already provide funding for the FBI to perform this task. The federal government oversees the NICS system and its usage by the Gun Line. Rather than allow the FBI to conduct the background checks that it is already auditing and overseeing, at no additional cost, we are paying a state agency to serve as the bureaucratic middleman.

In its role as the unnecessary intermediary, the Gun Line has caused outlandish delays in firearm purchases, stolen bread from the tables of New Hampshire dealers, denied the property rights of lawful firearm owners, all while still managing to allow prohibited individuals to obtain firearms.

In short: the Gun Line uses our tax dollars to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens while simultaneously providing a pathway for dangerous individuals to obtain guns.

Although the Gun Line has never provided the “instant” checks contemplated by federal law, the last twelve months have shown us how bad things can truly get, with background checks frequently delayed for several months. The time to abolish the Gun Line is now.

The FBI has a long history of administering background checks for handguns and long guns throughout the United States with efficiency and accuracy. The average background check response-time for the FBI is measured in seconds, not days, weeks, and months.

Certain groups would have you believe that the Gun Line is “an alternative” or “a different path” for background checks.

They will tell you that abolishing the gun line would “hand more power over to the Feds.”

They will tell you that the Gun Line allows individuals to appear at its counter to inquire as to background check delays and denials in person.

These are all lies of the worst sort, motivated by private interests and hidden agendas.

To make the falsehood of these statements crystal clear:

  • Federal law requires that the federal background check system be used with federal government oversight. The Gun Line is not an alternative path or independent path in any way, shape or form.
  • The federal government maintains exclusive authority to enforce the Gun Control Act of 1968 as amended by the Brady Act. Federal law sets the foundation for who is and who isn’t prohibited from firearm ownership. FBI and ATF oversee the Gun Line and all users of the NICS System. They already have all of the power. Abolishing the Gun Line simply allows the Granite State to benefit from the FBI’s longstanding, superior secretarial/administrative abilities.
  • The federal appeals process is more accessible than the non-existent gun line appeals process. I have personally represented clients who came to me after being unable to get the Gun Line to even tell them why they were denied for more than six weeks. If they are lucky enough to get a justification for the denial, it takes a miracle for the opportunity to appeal unless a lawyer is metaphorically burning down their building.


I have drafted a bill sponsored by Senator Bob Giuda, NH District 2, to abolish the Gun Line and restore the 2nd Amendment in New Hampshire.

Join our cause to defend the Constitution and our natural rights as free Americans.