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Feb 9, 2017 11:28 AM

NH bill repealing concealed carry permit approved in Statehouse

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – A bill that would make it easier for Granite Staters to carry a concealed weapon on Thursday easily passed its final major legislative hurdle on its path toward becoming law.

The state House of Representatives voted 200-97 in favor of the measure, which would repeal the need for a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun. There were a large number of absent state representatives, due to the powerful snowstorm slamming New Hampshire.

Last month the New Hampshire state Senate, in a 13-10 party line vote, passed the bill.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has repeatedly said he’ll sign the bill into law.

Last month, following the measure’s passage in the state Senate, the state’s first GOP governor in a dozen years wrote “I am pleased that the State Senate today voted to advance common sense legislation in support of a citizen’s fundamental right to carry a firearm, joining neighboring states throughout the region and across the country,” Sununu wrote in a statement following the vote.

Current law gives local police chiefs the right to determine if a person’s “suitable” to carry a concealed weapon.

Supporters of the bill, known officially as SB12, pointed to the neighboring states of Vermont and Maine, which don’t require permits to carry concealed handguns.

Similar measures passed the GOP dominated state Senate and state House of Representatives the past two years, but were both vetoed by then-Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Her predecessor in the Corner Office, fellow Democratic Gov. John Lynch, vetoed similar measures in 2006 and 2011.

In arguing in favor of the bill, state House Majority Leader Dick Hinch argued the measure "is a reasonable and long overdue measure that provides clarity, will enhance freedom for our responsible firearms community. And will be an overall deterrent to crime."

"This is a commonsense legislation that allows people to protect themselves and their loved ones by exercising the second amendment rights," Hinch added.

Supporters of the measure call it 'constitutional carry,' and Hinch said "law abiding gun owners deserve their rights to be fully upheld without the existing state law creating unnecessary barriers.

State House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff, a retired U.S. deputy marshal, argued that the current law works.

"A concealed carry law has been in place for 94 years. It is often cited in FBI statistics as one of the safest states in the nation," Shurtleff said.

And he raised alarms, saying "if this law is repealed individuals who should not be carrying a concealed weapon such as those suffering from dementia and alcoholism will be permitted to carry a concealed weapon."

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