By Rep. Mike Harrington
In the recent state legislative session, three bills were passed that if they become law, will restrict the Second Amendment rights of New Hampshire residents.
House Bill 109 would impose universal background checks on the sale of firearms. Under present law, all commercial sales of firearms (ones done through a licensed dealer) require a background check. HB 109 would extend this to include any “transfer of ownership of a firearm, including but not limited to, a sale, exchange, or gift.” What does transfer of ownership mean? There are no titles for firearms like there is for cars so what determines ownership? What if I loan someone a firearm? I still own the firearm but does this require a background check by a licensed dealer? What if I rent someone a firearm?
The bill does contain an exception if the transfer is “Between individuals, provided neither party to the transaction is a prohibited person. If the status of an individual’s eligibility to own or possess a firearm cannot be ascertained, the transaction shall be completed through a licensed firearm dealer.” I am a firearms instructor and this requires me to transfer firearms to students in the class so they can practice loading it with blanks for example. Would HB109 require me to go to a licensed dealer and have a background check performed on every student before I could do this? This would make teaching firearms training courses almost impossible. So what does HB 109 do to prevent gun violence? Nothing; if someone wants to sell/loan/rent a firearm to someone else, this bill does nothing to stop that.
HB 514 is the waiting period bill. It would require a three-day waiting period before a licensed entity could transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver a firearm. It doesn’t apply to transfers between non licensed entities so anyone could obtain a firearm from friend or anybody else without any waiting period. Second, it contains an exception from the waiting period to purchase a rifle or shotgun if one has taken a hunter safety course or if one is exempted from the hunter safety course (by virtue of having purchased a hunting license in the past) and processes a valid hunting license. So someone who purchased a hunting license 25 years ago goes to a firearms store to buy a rifle. They are told there is a three-day waiting period because they don’t have a valid hunting license. They take out their smart phone and purchase a hunting license on-line and walk out with a new rifle. I asked the manager of the sporting goods department at a major chain store what they would do if this bill became law. He said most likely stop selling firearms. Tracking the waiting period would be just too much hassle. The stores that continue to sell firearms will have to charge more due to cost associated with complying with this law. So the real purpose of this bill is to make it harder and more expensive for law abiding people to purchase firearms and will do nothing to stop gun violence
HB 564 is the gun free school zone bill. This bill is just plain silly. It is predicated on the following. Some maniac decides they want to go to a school and shoot as many people as possible. They drive to the school and see the gun free school sign and say, “Damn it, I can’t bring my gun in here,” and drive home. Like that is really going to happen? What’s most likely to happen when they see the sign is to say, “Great, no one else will have a gun but me.”
These bills do nothing to limit gun violence but do make it harder and more expensive for law abiding people to exercise their second amendment rights. A recent study found NH with some of the most liberal gun control laws, is the safest state in the country. California on the other hand, which some of the strictest gun control laws (universal background checks, waiting periods for guns and ammunition, bans on certain types of firearms ect.) was rated 34th. NH is a very safe place to live with our present gun laws and we don’t need any new ones. Remember, all gun control laws have a fatal flaw, criminals don’t obey the law. Contact Gov. Sununu and tell him to veto House Bills 109, 516 and 564.
Republican State Rep. Mike Harrington represents the towns of New Durham and Strafford in Strafford County District 3.