Kevin Landrigan: Gun show loophole closing? NH lawmakers advocate gun control
CONCORD - Nearly half the gun sales in New Hampshire lack criminal background checks because the purchases come at gun shows.
Federal law requires checks for all gun sales from a licensed dealers; there's no such mandate for gun shows.
A large group of House members want to change that with legislation to require checks be done for all sales except for private, non-commercial transfers between friends and families.
State Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, got 70 lawmakers to sign onto the bill along with her that drew the backing of the State Police, local chiefs and domestic violence advocates.
This is not an over-reach by government; it is a public safety measure to keep more guns out of the hands of those who we all agree should not have them. People like felons and domestic abusers,'' Rogers told the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
But gun owner supporters and their groups insist this is part of secret agenda of greater gun control that could eventually lead to a statewide gun registry.
The end game isn't background checks; the end game is no guns or if there are guns, a registry. I know that sounds a little harsh but it is true,'' said Susan Olsen, director of the Women's Defense League.
State officials estimate that 33,000 of the 82,500 sales that occur next year aren't required to have a background check.
Opponents insist that most who sell at gun shows are licensed firearms dealers. A separate federal law subjects the dealer to a 10-year prison term if he or she knowingly sells a gun to someone who's prohibited from having one such as convicted felons or those with mental illness whose been committed to a hospital.
"This bill is not going to save a single life; it's a massive waste of time, money and paper,'' said Joel Weinrebe, a gun advocate who lives in Belmont.
But Amy Moore, a Concord mom and domestic abuse survivor, passionately pleaded for the bill.
"I am passionate about this because I'm a mom and my seven-year-old means the world to me and the thought of not having a background check scares me,'' Moore said.
"One hundred and three children killed since Sandy Hook. Need I say more."
The legislation faces a steep uphill climb if it's to make it through the Republican-led House of Representatives.
Only last month, the House voted to change rules and allow its own members to carry concealed guns in the chamber.