Objections to Concealed Carry Repeal Measure on "Fast Track"
CONCORD, N.H. – This is the legislative priority?
That's what opponents of a measure to repeal the state's concealed carry gun law are asking as the measure appears ready to advance in the state Senate.
The vote in the full Senate could come as early as next week, and Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Granite State Progress, is concerned that lawmakers are “fast-tracking" a measure she says could have negative consequences for public safety.
"So with this vote, New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons," she states.
Supporters point to Vermont and Maine, which both allow residents to carry a firearm without a license, noting that those states have some of the lowest gun violence rates in the nation.
Rice Hawkins says if the measure passes, local law enforcement would lose its ability to deny permits to people who are known to be dangerous.
The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure (SB 12) in a party line vote earlier this week and Gov. Chris Sununu has pledged to sign it if it passes.
Rice Hawkins questions the new administration's priorities.
"This vote was the very first committee vote to take place in the new session of the Legislature, and frankly Granite State Progress is very concerned that this is the priority of Gov. Chris Sununu and the Republican lawmakers," she states.
Rice Hawkins says the current concealed carry law has been in place for more than 90 years. She says the move by Republican lawmakers to repeal it goes against the national trend.
"There are more than 40 states that already require a concealed carry license, and New Hampshire actually has one of the laws that is the most lax,” she points out. “So, if anything, we should be strengthening our public safety laws, rather than repealing them."
The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police testified against a similar bill last session.