LANCASTER — Although he agrees that firearms should not be in the hands of criminals and those with mental illnesses, a local businessman fears that legislation considered by the state's House of Representatives would not prevent either, but would only further erode the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners.
Sonny Martin, who with his wife, Diane, has owned Martin's Agway on Route 3 for 37 years, voiced those concerns on a large display sign outside his business and in a telephone interview.
Martin's sign warns about House Bill 1589, which would require universal background checks in New Hampshire for all gun sales. The bill is in the House's Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee.
A lifelong hunter, Martin is worried that universal background checks may eventually lead to a gun registry and, possibly, to the confiscation of guns.
"I'm right there with everybody about what happened at Sandy Hook, but I just don't believe that going through this is going to solve it," said Martin. "I think for some people, it (HB 1589) is a goody feeling that we did something."
"I don't understand why this government has to punish everybody over what a few people do. I just say enforce the laws you've got. The courts should be meting out some serious penalties."
Martin concedes that while he doesn't know exactly how firearms can be kept out of the possession of people who shouldn't have them, he's more certain that placing limitations on law-abiding citizens will not have the result that HB 1589's supporters hope for.
"People like me have already been taking measures to keep our guns secure," he said, adding that while he believes the majority of gun owners feels the same way, "they don't want to be limited by a law and then another law and another law."
The sign outside his business "will stay there until this whole thing is reconciled," referring to HB 1589, said Martin. "I just want people to be aware of what's happening."
Recovering from a recent accident, Martin said he hasn't been in his store much lately and, therefore, has only received some reaction, "not a whole lot," from his sign.
"I just want to bring this to the public's attention. If I had the money, I would take out big ads in the Union Leader and the local paper, and I'd just say, 'Hey, people, stand up and protect you rights under the Second Amendment.'"
Martin hopes people who see his sign will pause and think about the implications of HB 1589 if it became law in New Hampshire.