NH Dems kick off session by taking aim at gun violence

State Senators Donovan Fenton and Debra Altschiller joined State Representative David Meuse for a press conference Wednesday morning backing a slate of bills aimed at tackling gun violence in the Grante State. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

January 3, 2024

Members of the New Hampshire House and Senate held a press conference ahead of session Wednesday morning touting a package of bills aimed at addressing gun violence in the Granite State.

The slate of bills, HB360, HB1050, SB 577, HB1050, and HB 1037, are designed to close loopholes or address oversights in state firearm sales and enact what supporters call “common sense” legislation aimed at protecting the public from gun violence.

Rep. David Meuse (D-Portsmouth) spoke at the press conference in favor of a bipartisan bill he filed with Rep. Terry Roy (R-Deerfield) 

The bill would close a background check loophole in New Hampshire, which is among about a dozen states that do not require mental health records be submitted to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases.

If Bradley’s Law passes in this session of the legislature and gets signed into law by the governor, the NH judicial branch will be required to report the name of any person who is involuntarily committed to a mental health facility on a non-emergency basis.

Related: NH public schools get $4.6 million to keep kids safe from gun violence

The bill was filed in response to the fatal shooting in November of New Hampshire Hospital security officer Bradley Haas by a gunman who in 2016 had been arrested on assault and reckless conduct charges before being subject to at least one involuntary emergency admission to the psychiatric hospital.

Rep. Meuse said that while Bradley’s Law will close a small but critical public safety gap, there was much work left to do to reduce the risk of gun violence and suicide in our state.

“As of the last week in December, there had been 26 homicides in our state in 2023. More than half involved gun violence. Also in our state, close to 90% of our gun deaths each year are suicides. That’s double the national average,” Meuse said.

State Senator Donovan Fenton (D-Keene) spoke about his motivations for supporting this slate of bills.

“I remember going to school around the time Columbine took place. I was in 4th grade. As more shootings took place over the years my school, along with ones across the state, started running active shooter drills. I remember thinking how useless it felt to hide in a corner of a room when faced with the idea of someone with a gun, how the teachers had no answers for how to stop this, how my parents tried to reassure me,” Fenton said.

State Senator Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham) said the issues these bills were designed to address were past overdue.

“These reasonable and necessary changes to our laws will take the action you have all been calling for. They will address holes in our system, they will provide an avenue for those who need help to receive it, and they will protect our most vulnerable citizens across the Granite State… We cannot wait any longer and we cannot continue to live in the dangerous delusion that gun violence is not a problem in our state.”

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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