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House defeats mental health gun rights annulment bill


CONCORD — Without debate and on a voice vote, the House killed a bill establishing an annulment process to expunge mental health records.

Senate Bill 244 would have established an annulment procedure that would allow those prohibited from owning firearms due to mental illness to be removed from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System — the list licensed gun dealers use for background checks.

Law enforcement and several gun rights groups said the bill would not do what supporters contend it would, questioning whether it would meet federal guidelines to remove someone from the list.

Bill supporters say annulment is needed to end the stigmatization of the mentally ill, although almost all agree SB 244 would need significant changes to accomplish its goal.

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental facility or a court has found mentally ill to purchase guns through a licensed dealer.

However, New Hampshire is one of 17 states that do not report those found mentally ill by courts to the federal background check list.

The original bill would have required the state to report the mentally ill and would have established the annulment process.

The Senate refused to go along with the reporting requirements or establishing a committee to study the issue of adding the mentally ill to the federal prohibition list.

With only the annulment process left, and with questions about its effectiveness, the House decided the bill was not worth additional work and killed it.

grayno@unionleader.com

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