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Sununu's school safety task force report criticized

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 06. 2018 10:00AM
Gov. Chris Sununu (David Lane/Union Leader file photo)

Gun control advocates on Thursday faulted Gov. Chris Sununu’s school safety task force for avoiding clear recommendations on topics such as background checks and red flag laws; they called on the Republican governor to take several steps, including meeting with students to discuss school safety measures.

The School Safety Preparedness Task Force report released last week emphasized social-emotional learning programs in schools.

The task force suggested that Sununu convene a study group to consider gun control measures.

“Immediate legislation should be proposed for (universal background checks). Not another study committee,” said Jonathan Weinberg, a who graduated this spring from Concord High School and is a Granite State Progress fellow.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition said the task force was biased.

“It was filled with anti-gun law enforcement, community activists and people of the left side of the debate. The governor stacked it,” said Alan Rice, president of the coalition.

Weinberg spoke during a teleconference with other members of Granite State Progress, state Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, and Megan Tuttle, president of the statewide NEA teachers’ union.

They called for background checks, gun-free school zones, and a red-flag law, which would allow the temporary removal of guns from individuals deemed to be a safety risk.

Tuttle opposed a recommendation allowing armed school “marshals,” individuals who would not be sworn law enforcement officers.

Granite State Progress Director Zandra Rice Hawkins said Sununu told the task force to avoid any policies that would conflict with Sununu’s stance on guns.

In a statement, the governor’s press office said the task force had 90 days to do its work, and the Sununu administration determined that wasn’t enough time to compromise on guns. It will be up to the Legislature to decide whether more study is needed, the statement said.

“Gov. Sununu believes New Hampshire gun laws are where they need to be and that additional Second Amendment restrictions are not needed,” the statement reads.

Hopkinton High School senior Jennifer White called for Sununu to meet with the New Hampshire Social Justice League. Sununu’s office said he has personally met with many students on this issue, appointed students to the task force and provided students opportunities to submit comments online to the task force.

The teleconference participants stressed that another study is not needed.

“We’re one mass school shooting away from being the next headline,” Hawkins said. White said her fellow students, members of the Lockdown Generation, have become anxious during active shooter drills. And Tuttle stressed that school shootings are on every teacher’s mind.

“It’s in the back of your mind every day. Is today going to be the day?” she asked.

A red flag law would allow authorities to confiscate the guns of a person deemed a safety risk. That person would then have to go to court to get his weapons returned. That would cost thousands in legal fees for someone whose guns are confiscated, said Firearms Coaltion president Rice.

“If someone’s done something wrong, arrest him. If they’re a little odd and look funny and say weird things, that’s not a crime,” Rice said.

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