New Hampshire: Bill targeting gun-free zones stalls in House committee

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New Hampshire: Bill targeting gun-free zones stalls in House committee

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Post by NHGF [Feed] » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:11 pm

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By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau
January 30. 2018 11:53PM
CONCORD — A bill that would punish local officials for imposing gun-free zones on town- or school-owned property was held back by a legislative committee on Tuesday, but that recommendation could be overturned when the full House votes next week.The House Committee on Municipal and County Government voted 18-2 to refer the bill, HB 1749, to interim study, which means it’s dead for this year unless supporters can convince the full House to overturn the committee vote and pass the bill.“I’ve seen 19-1 committee reports flipped before. There have been numerous emails into the committee asking this bill to be passed,” said Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, lead sponsor. “There is real importance in passing this bill, given the over-reach we’ve seen in the local towns.”The bill was promoted by some gun rights advocates who say municipalities are exceeding their authority with new ordinances that amount to local gun control measures.They cite Milford selectmen for banning target shooting on town land and the Lebanon School Board, which has voted to ban firearms on school property and at school events on any property.Supporters of the bill say the change is necessary for the state to protect its jurisdiction over gun control and the rights of gun owners as they move from one municipality to another.New Hampshire already has a law on the books giving the state exclusive control over firearms regulation and banning municipalities from imposing any of their own.The attorney general agrees that towns do not have the legal authority to impose such regulations.The question centers on whether the state will enforce the law, nullify local ordinances and punish local officials for adopting them. The original bill called for $5,000 fines, but a late amendment changes that penalty to $500.“The $5,000 was copied from Florida statutes verbatim, and our selectmen are paid less, so maybe $500 is an appropriate level,” said Hoell.Committee Chairman James Belanger, R-Hollis, like other committee members, said he has been inundated with emails on the bill, and that many are now questioning why the state would block a school board from imposing a gun-free zone.“The emails I’m getting now are raising the question of why we allow guns in schools,” he said. “We are awakening a sleeping giant.”Gov. Chris Sununu has said he does not think any additional gun-related legislation is needed in the current session. The House Majority Leader, Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, registered his opposition to the bill.dsolomon@unionleader.com

Politics Courts Gun Control



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