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House votes to keep concealed-weapons permits in place

CONCORD - The House voted 226-144 Wednesday to kill a bill that would have repealed the permit requirement to carry a concealed weapon.

House Bill 451 would have allowed New Hampshire residents to carry a concealed weapon without going to their local police chief or selectmen for a concealed weapon permit.

The bill would not have allowed those barred from owning guns such as convicted felons or those with a history of domestic violence to carry firearms.

Supporters of the bill said New Hampshire should join Vermont and several others states who have adopted "constitutional carry." They said only law-abiding citizens get permits, but criminals do not.

Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, said he has a "God-given right to own a firearm" and he should not have to go to the local police chief, town clerk or government to get a permit.

"The bad guys never have permits. It's just funny that way," Burt said. "But government says we the good guys must have permits."

But opponents said the bill would end the state's reciprocity agreement with many other states allowing New Hampshire residents with their concealed weapons to travel in other states.

"The current law in the state of New Hampshire requiring a permit from the local community - selectmen or local police -- is working," said Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton. "It's a good policy we have in place and I suggest we keep it."

A similar bill failed to pass the legislature two years ago.

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