By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Three bills regulating gun possession and sales died on the House floor on Wednesday.
One would have limited firearms on school property. Another one would have imposed a waiting period on sales and delivery and the last would have required criminal background checks.
Though each of them received a majority vote to pass, they lacked the necessary two-thirds majority vote to override the vetoes of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.
On House Bill 564, relative to the possession of firearms on school property, the vote was 216-164. Opponents of the bill said it would make it a crime to carry weapons on school property, even when school was not in session.
Supporters said the bill would give campus security officers a tool to help protect schools. It was a tool that they had asked for. New Hampshire is one of only three states in the nation without any gun protection laws at schools, they said.
House Bill 514, which would impose a waiting period for all gun purchases, failed to get the necessary two-thirds. The vote was 217-163.
State Rep. Kathy Rogers, D-Concord, said the bill could prevent suicides by creating a brief “cooling-off period.” Opponents said it would deny residents the rights to protect themselves for a period of time if they felt an imminent danger.
House Bill 109, requiring criminal background checks for purchases of firearms, excluding private sales, also failed to overcome the governor’s veto. The override was a vote of 218-162.
In his veto message, the governor said New Hampshire is safe and these bills are not necessary. He said that the root causes of the nation’s gun issues are problems with individuals who have mental health problems.
Rep. Rogers disagreed with the governor’s characterization of this as a safe state.
“If we are not taking steps to slow down gun violence then aren’t we complicit?” she asked.
The fact that they could not override the governor’s veto on the House side means that the bills will not be sent over to the Senate vote and the bills die.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, called it “gun grabbing” legislation reacting to the House votes.
“New Hampshire is consistently ranked as one of the safest states in the nation. The vast majority of gun owners in New Hampshire are honest, law abiding citizens,” said Hinch.
“These bills are an unnecessary attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist in our state. This excessive government overreach has the potential to make criminals out of responsible gun owners.”