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Updated: House backs immunity for gun owners whose guns are stolen

State House Bureau

February 20. 2013 8:35PM

If a gun is stolen and used in a crime, the owner would have civil immunity under a bill the House passed on a 211-151 vote Wednesday.

Opponents of House Bill 388, which would give gun owners immunity if a weapon is stolen and used in a crime, said there is no demonstrated need for the bill or the possibility that a gun owner would be charged with a crime because of a stolen weapon.

"We do not try to come up with solutions unless there is a demonstrated need," said House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Paul Berch, D-Westmoreland. "We did not hear from Granite Staters there is a demonstrated need to change the law."

The House Judiciary Committee had recommended on a 12-6 vote to kill the bill.

But bill supporters said a recent court decision does demonstrate the need for the bill.

"Innocent home and gun owners should not be held liable for a crime committed by someone who stole their gun," said House Minority Leader Gene Chandler.

Rep. Lenette Peterson, R-Merrimack, noted a gun is not protection if it is locked away, saying but it is when it is accessible and available.

"Gun owners should not be victimized twice," Peterson said.

The House refused to back the committee's recommendation, voting 167-192, before sending the bill to the Senate by the 211-151 vote.

The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

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