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Background checks for gun buyers to be studied

State House Bureau

February 20. 2014 9:17PM

CONCORD — The issue of background checks for firearm purchases will come back to the House after a committee voted Thursday to establish a study commission on gun violence and background checks.

Last week, the House voted 242-118 after a lengthy debate to kill House Bill 1589, which would have required background checks for all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows and flea markets.

The bill was opposed by 2nd amendment activists and gun owner groups, who said it infringed on constitutional rights and prohibited any gun transactions between family and friends.

During the debate, opponents of the bill successfully changed the bill to a study commission to look at the relationship between the state’s good safety record and its gun laws.

But amendment supporters eventually voted down the study commission saying House leadership could stack the committee with those favoring restrictions on sales.

Thursday the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 12-6 to establish a study commission on gun violence, methods to strengthen the background check system and measures to promote firearms safety.

The study commission will replace the content of House Bill 1264, which would allow residents from states not requiring a concealed weapon permit to carry a loaded pistol in New Hampshire.

Rep. JR Hoell, R-Dunbarton, the sponsor of HB 1264, said the commission would be weighted to those favoring restricting 2nd Amendment rights.

The HB 1264 study commission would consist of one senator appointed by the Senate President, three House members appointed by the House Speaker, one member of an organization promoting gun violence prevention appointed by the Governor, one retail firearms business owner appointed by the Governor, and one member each from the National Alliance for Mental Illness, New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, Gun Owners of New Hampshire and the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, appointed by those organizations.

Background check supporters said the make-up of the commission is fair.

“The proposed commission will include a diverse set of stakeholders,” said Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “This fair and balanced representation of interests will make the study commission insightful and fruitful.”

The full House will vote on HB 1264 next month.

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