Statement on House Criminal Justice Committee Passage of HB 109, Closing Background Checks Loopholes to Keep Guns Out of Hands of Dangerous Felons, Domestic Abusers, and Other Prohibited Persons

CONCORD, NH – Today the NH House Criminal Justice Committee passed HB 109, closing background checks loopholes, by a vote of 10-9. Statements from the prime sponsor and advocates:

“The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS) has blocked over 2 million gun sales to people who are prohibited from possessing guns, but the current system’s loophole is exploited by criminals who can avoid background checks by purchasing firearms from unlicensed “private sellers”, often at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions,” said State Representative Katherine Rogers, prime sponsor of HB 109. “While HB 109 won’t prevent every tragedy, it will make a difference, it will save lives, and it will make our communities a safer place to live. Small changes to our gun laws might not prevent criminals from getting a gun, but it will prevent many and that’s worth it.”

“Requiring a background check every time a gun is sold is effective in keeping guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited persons,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress. “HB 109 requires a background check for all commercially advertised sales and just makes sense –responsible gun owners shouldn’t put guns in the hands of people they don’t know. Closing background checks loopholes has widespread public support and we urge the full legislature to pass this important piece of legislation.”

About HB 109: In 2018, New Hampshire conducted over 120,000 background checks to keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited persons. But guns sold in New Hampshire through private sales at gun shows, online, or the classifieds do not currently require a background check. Under this bill, commercially advertised gun sales – a sale, transfer, or exchange of a firearm that takes place at, or on the curtilage of, a gun show or pursuant to an offer to sell or buy a firearm from an advertisement, posting, listing, or display – would require a criminal background check through a federally licensed dealer using the same background check system already used in all dealer sales. Requiring a background check every time a gun is sold is effective in keeping guns out of the hands of those with a criminal record. This just makes sense: responsible gun owners shouldn’t put guns in the hands of people they don’t know. Sales and transfers between family and friends are not subject to a background check, but a penalty applies if an individual transfers or sells a firearm to a prohibited person.

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GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress, works to protect and advance common sense public safety laws. The program convenes the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, members include gun violence prevention advocates, moms, medical professionals, gun owners, veterans, law enforcement, elected officials, school administrators, educators, students, and faith leaders, and organizations representing various constituencies.