Law-abiding citizens in New Hampshire no longer need a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public.
This week, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed SB12 into law, which made New Hampshire the 12th state to go Constitutional (or permitless) carry.
“SB 12 ensures New Hampshire citizens are guaranteed the fundamental right to carry a firearm in defense of themselves and their families, as prescribed by Article 2a of our state constitution,” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a statement.
“This common sense legislation aligns our concealed carry laws with that of our neighboring states of Vermont and Maine and states across the country,” Sununu continued. “This is about safety. This is about making sure that the laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to the Live Free or Die spirit that makes New Hampshire the great state that it is.”
SB 12 was the first bill that Gov. Sununu signed since taking office this year.
Prior to the bill’s passage, New Hampshire was a may-issue state meaning that one would have to obtain a CLEO (chief law enforcement officer) signature as part of the issuing process. That CLEO would decide whether the applicant was “suitable” to carry a concealed firearm.
Many believed that this arbitrary standard for permitting created situations where applicants were unfairly denied licenses.
“We have seen substantial abuse of the current statutes by various police departments,” Rep. JR Hoell of (R-Dunbarton) told the Concord Monitor.
It should be noted that New Hampshire already allowed residents to carry openly without a permit or license, which one could argue that by virtue of that law it seems only logical to extend that to concealed firearms as well.
Given that it’s already illegal for criminals, drug dealers, domestic abusers, and other prohibited persons to carry firearms, the only people the old law had an effect on was law-abiding citizens. They were the ones who didn’t carry concealed. Criminals et al. do what they want anyhow.
Yet, not everyone agrees. Naysayers and anti-gunners are always skeptical when state legislatures give freedom back to the people despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that expanding gun rights makes society more dangerous.
“The governor claims concealed carry is about ‘safety,’ but he is making it harder for law enforcement officials to keep track of guns that fall into the wrong hands,” Ray Buckley, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement. “New Hampshire has imminent issues that need the Governor’s attention, but further relaxing the state’s notoriously lax gun laws is not one of them.”
Likewise, Portsmouth Police Commissioner Joseph Plaia wasn’t happy with the new law.
“This bill will eliminate the state’s longstanding permitting system and prevent local law enforcement from making important determinations that help keep guns out of dangerous hands,” said Plaia, who is also a member of Granite State Coalition for Common Sense, a gun-control advocacy group.
Momentum on the Constitutional carry front continues to build (I do believe my home state of Kentucky is one of several states currently considering a permitless carry bill). As mentioned, it’s common sense. Moreover, it’s more in-line with what the founders and framers intended when they drafted the 2A.