State House Roundup: Bill to close 'gun show loophole' voted down
CONCORD — A bill to require background checks for private gun sales, closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” was defeated in the House of Representatives on Thursday, 221-151.
The bill excluded private, noncommercial sales or transfers between individuals, but that didn’t sway opponents, who argued it would make the “transfer” of a firearm mean the same as the “sale” of a firearm, requiring anyone looking at or touching a firearm subject to a National Instant Criminal System (NICS) background check.
Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, speaking for the Democratic minority, called the bill "a public safety measure to keep guns out of the hands of people we know shouldn’t have them, like felons and domestic abusers."
Rogers said New Hampshire’s lack of a law requiring background checks for private guns sales was drawing more criminals to the state. “Drug dealers come to New Hampshire from states with sensible gun laws to trade heroin for guns,” she said.
The House defeated a bill regarding the awarding of attorney’s fees in Right-to-Know cases in a close 184-187 vote, overriding the committee recommendation that the bill ought to pass.
HB 365 would have amended the state’s Right-to-Know Law to require payment of attorney’s fees to a petitioner who succeeds in a Superior Court lawsuit challenging the denial of access to records.
Under the present law, attorney’s fees can only be awarded if “the court finds that the public body, public agency or person” acted in flagrant violation of the Right-to-Know law, RSA 91:A.
“This bill would encourage the government to provide information under the Right-to-Know law,” said Rep. Dan Hynes, R-Merrimack. “If the government does not properly respond to a Right-to-Know request, there is additional accountability.”
Rep. Sandra Keans, D-Rochester, argued that if plaintiffs in a Right-to-Know case can convince a judge they deserve reimbursements of legal fees, they can prevail, but that such reimbursement should not be automatic just because they won their case.