Fight Brewing in New Hampshire Over State vs. Local Control of Gun Laws

Local communities in New Hampshire are trying to buck state law and further regulate firearms. (Photo: New York Times)

It’s a perennial question: do cities have the right to pass gun control laws that contradict those of the state?

A growing number of state legislatures are saying, “No,” and adding hefty penalties for those that do. Now it looks like New Hampshire is set to join them.

A new bill would allow fines of up to $5,000 to be levied against town or city officials who try to push local ordinances that oppose state laws, according to the Boston Herald.

The bill mentions two instances, though proponents say there are many more. In the first, the town of Milford banned target shooting on a 270-acre piece of town-owned land that residents had been using to practice their marksmanship. Despite the fact that no one had ever been injured on the land, city officials deemed it too dangerous for residents to continue shooting there.

In the second instance, the Lebanon School Board prohibited firearms on school property or at school events on non-school property.

Both actions are clear violations of the law, proponents of the bill say, because New Hampshire is not a “home rule” state, meaning that state law always preempts local law.

One of those proponents and the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. J.R. Hoell, says an increasing number of local officials are thumbing their nose at state policies.

“It seems to be getting worse,” Hoell told the Boston Herald, adding, “How would you feel if all of a sudden Lebanon said the First Amendment doesn’t apply? We don’t do this with any other Constitutional right.”

SEE ALSO: New Hampshire Goes Constitutional Carry!

“We have elected officials breaking the law because there are no penalties. This bill corrects that by adding penalties, like we would for any other law,” Hoell continued. “If we’re going to put laws on the books, we expect them to be obeyed. If there are penalties for citizens, there should be penalties for elected officials.”

The New Hampshire legislature is controlled by Republicans, so Hoell’s measure has a good chance of passing. But that hasn’t stopped anti-gun legislators from pursuing their own agenda.

Democratic state Rep. Delmar Burridge is pushing for more gun restrictions at the state level, dismissing his Republican colleagues as “Pistol Pete” vigilantes and “goofy knuckleheads” who think the other side is always out to take their guns away.

“They think they’re better shots than the cops are. I call these guys ‘Walter Mitty’ iterations — they think they’re heroes,” Burridge told the Herald.

He’s got his work cut out for him. New Hampshire has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation, most recently becoming a “constitutional carry” state by removing all restrictions on carrying a concealed firearm.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Kalifornia escapee March 10, 2018, 10:24 am

    My wife and I escaped Fascist/Commie Socialist controlled Kalifornia to New Hampshire. Both are from New England and spent 20+ years in LA working behind the scenes in the Film-TV Industry. The Democratic Socialists of NH have been bringing Commie Racist Mad Maxine Waters and Fascist Racist Garcetti to NH to help write anti Constitutional and anti-NH policies. The schools and Cities/Towns that wish to make their own laws instead of following State Laws are also part of the Obama-Holder Criminal Protection Act called the “Promise Program which protects criminals/murderers from having a Police Record. Cruz, the Parkland murderer, was protected by this program and had no rap sheet which allowed him to clear a background check. Superintendent Runcie (Chicago Obama pal) and Sheriff Israel were part of the program protecting Cruz.
    I hope the citizens of NH fight the Kalifornia-Chicago Commie/Fascist Socialist takeover of their State. The future and safety of their children depend on their voices and backbone.

  • Big John January 22, 2018, 1:41 pm

    What do you expect from Delmar Burridge, a libtard transplant from Pennsylvania who is a College Professor in the libtard college town of Keene (literally a couple miles north of the Massachusetts border). Me thinks Delmar should move a couple of miles south to the utopian Peoples Republic of Massachusetts, he’d feel a lot more at home (and take a few hundred thousand of his liberal transplant invaders with him).

    For quite some time southern New Hampshire has been INVADED with liberals leaving the Blue State utopian paradises they have helped create due to high crime, urban sprawl and even higher taxes (due to the liberal laws and policies they have supported). Then they move into the “Live Free or Die State” and try to change our conservative laws and policies to align with their ass backwards belief system. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Hey LIBTARDS, you came here cause it’s better… if you don’t like it GO HOME, don’t F-up our State!!!!!

  • BrianNH January 20, 2018, 6:38 pm

    Good for NH! And we finally have a Republican governor to help get stuff like this done. What they really need to do is not just fine these SOB liberal bastard bureaucrats, but charge them criminally, too. Same with refusing to obey federal immigration laws.

  • Nick M January 19, 2018, 4:31 pm

    Authority flows down hill, not the other way.

  • BobinFlorida January 19, 2018, 3:08 pm

    State Rep. Hoell stated, ““We have elected officials breaking the law because there are no penalties. This bill corrects that by adding penalties, like we would for any other law,” and then continued with, “If we’re going to put laws on the books, we expect them to be obeyed. If there are penalties for citizens, there should be penalties for elected officials.”

    He(?) is absolutely correct – that is precisely the problem we had here in Florida. State preemption was being ignored by local jurisdictions because there were no penalties for doing so. We had local (some county, some municipal) officials flat state that they would keep ignoring the state law provisions because there were no penalties. So, . . . . Florida changed that a few years ago! You probably heard the local officials in Florida screaming and complaining in the states where you live; they blustered and said they’d continue to ignore the new law just as they had the old ones; but, the changed law, combined with gun rights groups that had the legal expertise (and backing) to bring charges in the appropriate jurisdictions, soon got their attention and the flaunting of the state preemption laws has pretty well stopped. There is still the occasional ‘no guns allowed’ sign that is discovered; but, a short and ‘friendly’ letter from one of the Florida Carry attorneys to the appropriate official usually results in prompt corrective action.

    Passing a ‘law with teeth’ isn’t a panacea for years of local disregard for state law; but, a group that is willing to step up and see that the ‘teeth’ are employed will go a long way to making it effective. You need to get one of your gun rights organizations staffed, geared up, and funded to be able to take prompt action when the inevitable challenges arise. The key is to take effective action, early on, to identify existing transgressions (whether signage or ordinances), then notify, and publicly pursue, those officials who are responsible for the illegal action. In Florida that could include fines, loss of position, and/or jail time.

    The key is having some organization that is willing and able to identify and pursue the transgressions.

    Good luck in your endeavors.

  • John L January 19, 2018, 8:58 am

    “Walter Mitty” types. Pretty clueless comment from this guy. I’m 62 years old and have been involved in many life and death situations. No shootings, thank God, but fires, drownings, car wrecks and medical emergencies. Been both the rescuer and the one being rescued. The one thing they all had in common was that ordinary people were the first on scene and rendering aid before the first responders arrived. NOT a knock on the professionals. Nobody is happier than me to hear that siren approaching in a crisis. It’s like seeing the cavalry come over the hill in an old western movie:).

  • joefoam January 19, 2018, 8:06 am

    Wow, the thought of a politician being held accountable for their actions makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Don’t stand behind me ’cause monkeys will come flying out of me before this happens.

  • Ghost January 19, 2018, 7:54 am

    City Vs State Vs Fed Vs Constitution……..Constitution Wins every Time

    • joefoam January 19, 2018, 8:57 am

      Didn’t work for the legalization of marijuana. Still a Federal crime but legal in certain states.

    • ras January 19, 2018, 11:09 am

      Didn’t work in Connecticut. Even the Supreme Court refused to hear the case when it was brought up by pro-2nd Amendment groups.

  • Linc Qimiq January 19, 2018, 3:02 am

    Good guns for self defense but criminal are not self defense only used gun robbing to get $$$$ from people ..who earn for living

  • Eugene Cullen January 17, 2018, 1:04 pm

    This bill is not about whatever Delmar is thinking its about. But to digress to his level, we are better shots than the cops. The cops go to qualify 1 maybe 2 times a year. I shoot 4 times a month. I know cops that didn’t even know how to unload a revolver. A citizen is the first responder.

  • Will Drider January 17, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Cops can only take a shot if they are present on the scene while the crime is being committed, rarely the case. You have people in the active incident then FIrst Responders arrive later. Dems don’t give a shit about your initial safety when your threatened.

  • Bobs yer uncle January 16, 2018, 9:52 am

    Denver too

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