Landrigan: Repeal of permit to carry a concealed gun in NH gaining steam
CONCORD - A key House panel's support increases the prospects that Gov. Maggie Hassan will have to decide whether to repeal a permit to a carry a concealed firearm.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety's strong, 10-6 vote for the bill sends the measure to the full House of Representatives with a full head of steam.
In past years, the same committee has rejected this idea.
Committee Chairman John Tholl, R-Dalton, said the majority ultimately decided that most gun crimes are not committed by those who carry a permit.
"I really don't think you are going to see much a difference in the crime rate if you see us go ahead with this,'' Tholl said.
Rep. Robert Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, said he was "disappointed'' the panel endorsed it.
"I just think it's a knee-jerk reaction to what the gun lobby was looking for. There is no compelling need to do this because I don't believe law enforcement is abusing the permit process and making it onerous for people.''
Tholl said he believes many gun owners will continue to purchase gun permits even after the requirement is done away with.
That's because New Hampshire has a reciprocal agreement that allow our residents to carry concealed weapons in more than 20 states. To do so, however, will first require that gun owner to buy a permit here.
Supporters point to Vermont as the best experience with no concealed carry permit for the past 220 years.
Vermont's crime rate is the lowest in the nation; New Hampshire is sixth lowest according to the most recent, national crime reports.
Local and state law enforcement insist the permit system has worked well and prevented some dangerous criminals from getting guns.
Further they warn this law could end up allowing some to get guns who can't now receive them.
Eliminating the permit would also cause the state to lose an estimated $900,000 a year it receives from fees charged for out-of-state residents, they say.
Hassan hasn't weighed in on this measure but the odds are she will have to.
The two-term Democrat has had the loyal backing of law enforcement unions and many chiefs so she will feel the pressure to veto the measure if the legislation gets that far.
That's because the Republican-led House of Representatives has already gone on record in support of gun advocates, bringing back permission for lawmakers and the public to carry weapons into the House chamber and adjacent spaces.
The full House vote on the permit legislation (SB 116) is likely to come later this month.