The State of New Hampshire prohibits any local public entity from crafting its own weapons regulations. These entities are restricted by state statute, and RSA 159:26 is clear about that, but then it’s not, and closing that “loophole” in our gun laws has the Left wetting its rhetorical bed.
The bill, under the name of “the New Hampshire Second Amendment state preemption act,” would “declare all ordinances and regulations null and void which have been enacted by any jurisdictions other than state and federal jurisdictions, which regulate firearms; ammunition; ammunition components; knives; firearms components; firearms accessories; and firearms supplies. …” This means that any firearm regulation by a county, city, town, municipality, school district or school administrative unit would be illegal and no longer in effect.
This bill would allow people to legally carry a firearm pretty much anywhere they want, and public entities cannot say otherwise. Given recent mass shootings and the epidemic of gun violence in this country, is this what we want in New Hampshire? Do private citizens carrying firearms in public places make us safer? I don’t think so.
How awful you say, except (first) – you know very little about, shootings, guns, and gun laws – (and) that’s not what HB307 does. I asked one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Norm Silber, to offer clarity.
Although the wording [the original intent of RSA 159:26] is clear, several municipalities and other political subdivisions (for example some towns, cities, and school boards, as well as state colleges and universities), as well as private operators of publicly-owned property (for example, the SNHU arena in Manchester) have adopted and implemented no-firearms policies, which are contrary to the existing state law. The problem results from the absence of any meaningful enforcement mechanism in the existing law.
What does the existing RSA say (emphasis mine)?
I. To the extent consistent with federal law, the state of New Hampshire shall have authority and jurisdiction over the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives in the state. Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, no ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision may regulate the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, or firearms supplies in the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting a political subdivision’s right to adopt zoning ordinances for the purpose of regulating firearms or knives businesses in the same manner as other businesses or to take any action allowed under RSA 207:59.
II. Upon the effective date of this section, all municipal ordinances and regulations not authorized under paragraph I relative to the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearm components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives shall be null and void.
Any regulation by any subdivision (etc.) of a business that sells “weapons” must conform to RSA 207:59, but in no other instance does RSA 159:26 empower a school board or a town or a college to prohibit the lawful carry of a firearm on any public property in the absence of a law that empowers them to do that.
There is no such law.
All those prohibitions the author seeks to protect (and whose repeal they fear) are already illegal, so HB307 is not repealing anything. But lacking an enforcement method, there is no motivation not to violate RSA 159:26. Towns, school districts, and college campuses have abused that gun-law loophole to violate citizens’ rights and state law.
Rep. Silber continues,
SB307, which has been passed, as amended, by the House, remedies the problem by providing for an enforcement mechanism. Not only are conflicting local ordinances, rules, and policies deemed null and void, but an aggrieved citizen can demand their rescission within a short time frame and if that is not done, a court case can be brought to rescind the conflicting items, and financial penalties can be assessed against the political subdivision that has violated the law.
Two more points from me to the author (and their fellow hoplophobes) regarding the illusion of gun-free school zones in the Granite State. Not only do they have no legal standing in State law, but they also have none in federal law, either if the person in possession has a New Hampshire pistol or revolver license (or if they are a criminal since criminals don’t follow laws).
S0, armed law-abiding citizens have been legally carrying concealed on public school property for years without any of the frighteningly false consequences the author attributes to any repeal of those illegal rules. None.
This letter-writers desire to salvage those prohibitions legal or otherwise would guarantee nothing more than that criminals would now be the only people carrying weapons on school property.
My second point is that people who think schools should be free to ban the legal carry of firearms by law-abiding citizens are more likely to have the sorts of schools where what they fear most is more likely to happen.
Mass shootings overwhelmingly occur in gun-free zones – places where criminals know there are few if any, individuals capable of meeting them with an equal or greater force which is exactly what the letter writer would get and the opposite of what they believe.