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Constitutional carry? Not in the Granite State

By GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau

September 16. 2015 10:07PM




CONCORD — New Hampshire will not be joining two of its neighboring states that eliminated the requirement for concealed weapons permits.

The Senate Wednesday failed to override Gov. Maggie Hassan’s veto of Senate Bill 116, not reaching the two-thirds majority needed with a 14-10 vote along party lines.

 

Long a priority for gun ownership groups, the House and Senate passed the bill this session, but not by enough votes to override the veto.

Bill opponents argue most state residents believe the current system works. Law enforcement opposed the bill.

“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry permitting law has worked well for nearly a century — safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of our citizens while helping to keep the Granite State one of the safest states in the nation,” Hassan wrote in her veto message. “Our concealed weapons permitting system gives an important oversight role to local law enforcement, while allowing for appeals through appropriate channels.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, acknowledged the support was not enough to override the veto, but said he would bring the bill back again until the permit requirement is eliminated.

 

“It’s a common sense measure,” Bradley said. “Vermont has had constitutional carry forever and a day, and Vermont is the safest state in the nation. Why would we not want to emulate Vermont for that?”

Susan Olsen, legislative director for the Women’s Defense League, said the 100-year-old law was based on past fear of immigrants and labor organizers.

“Somewhat ironically, on July 6, two days following Independence Day, Gov. Hassan vetoed SB 116 — legislation that would have restored freedoms taken away from New Hampshire residents nearly 100 years ago and ended an unparalleled period of state-sanctioned discrimination,” Olsen said.

Other bill supporters claim it discriminates against women, as current law leaves the decision to local law enforcement officials, who are often arbitrary and reflect their personal biases.

While Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, Vermont and Wyoming have constitutional carry laws, about 20 states considered similar legislation this year. Maine passed similar legislation this session, and constitutional carry will go into effect later this year.

grayno@unionleader.com


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