Fri 21 Oct, 2011 05:42 pm
No-license gun bill is pushed
By TOM FAHEY
State House Bureau Chief
Published Oct 21, 2011 at 3:00 am (Updated Oct 20, 2011)
CONCORD — New Hampshire residents would no longer have to
obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons under a bill a key House
committee voted for Thursday.
By a vote of 12-5, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
recommended passage of House Bill 536, which allows anyone but
convicted felons and the mentally ill to carry revolvers and pistols
openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, without a license.
The bill continues the current licensing system so gun owners can
produce a state license in other states that have agreements in
place that recognize them.
Gun rights advocates said the bill, amended from its original
version, preserves the important points they hoped to win.
“This does the one thing we believe is most important, and that is it
makes a license to carry optional,” said James Wheeler, treasurer of
the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition.
“We believe the Constitution is an individual license to carry,” he added.
Police say they think the bill is a bad idea.
Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill said the bill eliminates the careful
balance that current law strikes on concealed weapons licenses.
“To think that government is violating one of your Second Amendment
rights through licensing, I think is ridiculous,” said Cahill, who just
ended a term as president of the N.H. Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Going without a license to carry just opens the door for all those people
who wouldn’t have been able to get one,” he said.
Current law requires local law enforcement to make a decision on a
license with 14 days of an application. Denials can be appealed to
the local district court, where police and the individual present
their arguments, Cahill said.
The committee also passed a bill that makes it more difficult for towns
to pass ordinances regarding gun use and possession. HB 334 bars
gun bans on any public property, whether it is owned by local or
state government, unless the specifically ban is authorized in state law.
The bill passed on an 11-6 vote.
In addition to making licenses optional, HB 536 also makes it easier
for anyone to sell pistols and revolvers to licensed dealers, state
residents or to anyone they know.
The committee stripped much of the more extreme language from
the bill as it was originally filed by Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton.
His version ended the ban on guns in courtrooms, and called for the
arrest of police chiefs who denied licenses to someone unless they
were a convicted felon. It would also have made it a crime for
police to stop someone carrying without a license, and would have
made it legal to carry a blackjack, brass knuckles and slingshots.
Wheeler said the main point of the bill, allowing anyone to carry
a concealed weapon, is protected.
He said the bill will not affect the state ban on guns in courtrooms
or federal laws barring them in schools.
He argued that the bill corrects flaws in the current system.
“Citizens shouldn’t be required to ask for permission from the
government before they exercise their constitutional rights,” Wheeler said.
I think that it looks good for the future of the Freedom of the citizens of New Hampshire.