Statement on NH House Vote on HB 351, Safe Storage of Firearms
HB 351 promotes safe storage of firearms to protect children and communities; it is the latest gun violence prevention bill to be shot down by the Republican-led NH state legislature this year, stifling progress to create safer communities and save lives
CONCORD, NH – Today, the NH House voted 203-182 to indefinitely postpone HB 351, which would have held irresponsible gun owners accountable for the negligent storage of firearms that resulted in a firearms death or injury by a child.
“Our children deserve to grow up in safe homes and communities where guns and ammunition are properly stored,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress. “When children have easy, unsupervised access to firearms, it increases the risk of injury or death. Responsible gun owners do not leave firearms improperly stored around young children. GunSense NH condemns the House vote against safe storage of firearms.”
Background: HB 351 promoted safe storage of firearms to protect children and communities, and expanded criminal penalties for negligent storage of firearms. Secure storage keeps firearms out of the wrong hands and can play a critical role in preventing firearm deaths, which are the leading cause of death for children and teens nationally. It also protects young children from the horrible experience of potentially harming themselves or someone else. New Hampshire is not immune to stories of young children harming themselves or others due to negligent storage of firearms and ammunition.
- In 2021, a 4 year old in Weare shot himself in the hand with an improperly stored gun
- In 2016, a 10 year old in Durham shot and killed himself in front of a 6 year old relative during a school snow delay
- In 2013, a 5 year old in Manchester shot himself accidentally
Members of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition released the following statements:
Tracy Hahn-Burkett, member of the Kent Street Coalition Leadership Team and a member of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition: “Safe storage bills are supported by responsible, law abiding gun owners. They offer additional protection for children and save gun owners from the horror, and the liability, that is a risk whenever an unsecured firearm falls into the hands of a child.”
Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director of NH Council of Churches and a member of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition: “Gun violence is not just a policy issue, it is a moral, ethical and a theological issue as well. Our societies are only as strong as we care for our children, and when we put our children in unsafe situations where they can cause irreparable harm to themselves or others, we have failed.”
Jonathan Weinberg, a campaign organizer with GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress, and a former March for Our Lives student leader inspired by the student response to the Parkland shooting: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each day in America 8 children and teens are injured or killed in shootings involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home. This common sense bill is the bare minimum legislators could have done to prevent the death and harm of children, and to keep young children from the horrible experience of causing those tragedies.”