Valley News: Gun Vote in the New Hampshire Senate
Pierce, the Lebanon Democrat, was on the losing end of a 3-1 vote Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved a controversial “constitutional carry” bill that would allow all gun owners in the state to carry a concealed firearm. Right now they can do so, but only if they first get a permit from local police.
Pierce said the other Democrat on the committee, state Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, would also have voted against the measure but she was stuck behind a traffic accident. Pierce noted that law enforcement officials in New Hampshire oppose changing the law, and said there’s a “very simple license process” currently in place that helps prevent people with a history of mental illness or domestic abuse from carrying a concealed weapon.
“This bill goes to an absolutist reading of the Second Amendment,” Pierce said. “The best system of law is that which is in balance, and this bill throws it way out of balance.
“Our laws should be there to protect the rights of our citizens, but also the lives or our citizens, and this puts Second Amendment rights over public safety.”
Pierce said he had received hundreds of emails from outside of his district supporting the constitutional carry bill, and 10 from his district. Of those, seven opposed the measure; three supported it.
Should it pass, New Hampshire would join Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont as states not requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon.
Derek Dufresne, the spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, which backs the measure, released a statement noting that Vermont is “regarded as the safest (state) in the nation.”
“New Hampshire should follow suit. It is time to finally remove this onerous requirement and support law-abiding gun owners. The Second Amendment is a right. Legislators shouldn’t require lawful individuals to have to get a government permission slip to act on it,” Dufresne said.
Pierce said the bill is likely to pass the Republican-controlled Legislature, but he expects Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan would veto the measure. With Republicans holding a 14-10 margin in the state Senate, Hassan, in theory, has enough Democratic votes to uphold a veto.
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