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.

Statement on House Education Committee Passage of HB 564, Statewide Gun Free Schools Bill

CONCORD, NH – Today the NH House Education Committee passed HB 564, statewide gun free schools, amended by a vote of 11-8. Statements from the prime sponsor and advocates:

“The presence of firearms in our schools disrupts learning environments and takes school personnel and resources away from their primary job of teaching our children,” said State Representative Mary Heath, prime sponsor of HB 564. “The majority of states, 47 states of them and the District of Columbia, prohibit carrying or possessing a firearm on K-12 school property or events. Only Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Wyoming do not. New Hampshire has never experienced a multi-student shooting event and while this bill cannot promise that it will prevent such a tragedy, it is a step closer to keeping New Hampshire children safe from harm.”

“We applaud the committee for moving forward on this common sense bill,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress. “Guns do not belong in our elementary, middle, or high schools but right now local school districts and police departments face real challenges in how to appropriately deal with situations in light of major gaps in state law. We need to make sure our local school districts and police departments have the tools they need to deter a dangerous situation before it becomes a deadly one.”

“I applaud the outcome of the committee vote to keep guns out of schools,” said Ruby Carr, a junior at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy and a student leader on gun violence prevention. “We hope the full legislature will also pass statewide gun free schools legislation this session to ensure safe learning environments for students like myself.”

About HB 564: The federal Gun Free Schools Act prohibits students from bringing firearms into schools, and the Gun Free Schools Zone Act prohibits all other persons from bringing firearms within 1,000 feet of school property unless they are licensed by the state to carry a firearm. While federal law establishes gun free school zones with qualifications, gaps in state law and a recent statement from the Attorney General’s office has left school districts and police departments in murky water on enforcement and jeopardizes safe spaces for our children to learn and grow. HB 564 seeks to clarify that our elementary, middle, and high schools are gun free.

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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.

Day Before Anniversary of Parkland Shooting, New Hampshire to Hold Public Hearings on Gun Free Schools, Background Checks, and Waiting Periods

HB 109 would close background check loopholes, HB 514 creates a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, HB 564 keeps guns out of our schools, and HB 687 passes an extreme risk protection order

CONCORD, NH – On Wednesday, February 13th, the day before the anniversary of the Parkland school shooting tragedy, the New Hampshire legislature will hold public hearings on three of four priority gun violence prevention bills this session.

“It’s time for New Hampshire to pass a package of common sense gun violence prevention laws, including closing background check loopholes, creating a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, keeping guns out of our elementary, middle, and high schools, and passing the popular, bipartisan extreme risk protection order which is improving public safety in states across the nation,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of GunSense NH, a project  of Granite State Progress, and convener of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition.

Details on public hearings for each of the bills is below. The NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition will host a media availability Wednesday, February 13th at 12 Noon in the LOB Lobby for reporters to speak directly with sponsors and supporters in between hearings.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

10:00 AM – Public Hearing on HB 564 Gun Free Schools –House Education Committee, LOB Room 210-211

12 Noon – NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition Media Availability –Opportunity for members of the media to speak directly with advocates, including bill sponsors, parents, educators, students, medical professionals, and others in the LOB Lobby.

1:00 PM – Public Hearing on HB 109, Closing Background Check Loopholes –House Criminal Justice and Public Safety, LOB Room 210-211

2:30 PM – Public Hearing on HB 514, Creating a Waiting Period Between the Purchase and Delivery of a Firearm –House Criminal Justice and Public Safety, LOB Room 210-211

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

10:00 AM – Public Hearing on HB 687, Extreme Risk Protection Orders –House Criminal Justice and Public Safety, LOB Room 204

All public hearings will be held in the Legislative Office Building, 33 N State Street, Concord. Descriptions of each bill available in the attached document.

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The NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition has worked together for the last 5 years to protect and advance common sense public safety laws. 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. The coalition is convened by GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress.

Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Applaud NH House Vote to Keep Guns Out of State House Chambers and Gallery

Next up: time to close background check loopholes, create a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, keep guns out of schools, and pass an extreme risk protection order

Concord, NH – Members of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition applaud the NH House of Representatives vote today to keep guns out of the House chamber, gallery, and anterooms. The amendment to House Rule #63 passed 220-163.

“I applaud the outcome of today’s vote to keep guns out of the State House,” said Ruby Carr, a junior at Coe-Brown High School and a student leader on gun violence prevention. “Those who voted in support of this amendment voted for the safety of themselves and fellow legislators, as well as anyone who wishes to visit the State House. We hope the legislature will also pass statewide gun free schools legislation this session to ensure safe learning environments for students like myself.”

“Constituents and school children have a right to feel safe when they visit the State House,” said Tracy Hahn-Burkett, a mother and Bow resident. “This vote represents the opinions of the majority of constituents and responsible gun owners in our community.”

“This vote is a step in the right direction,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress and convener of the NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition. “Now the legislature needs to pass a package of common sense gun violence prevention laws, including closing background check loopholes, creating a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, keeping guns out of our elementary, middle, and high schools, and passing the popular bipartisan extreme risk protection order which is improving public safety in states across the nation.”

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The NH Gun Violence Prevention Coalition has worked together for the last 5 years to protect and advance common sense public safety laws. 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. The coalition is convened by GunSense NH, a project of Granite State Progress.


Attorney General Heeds Granite State Progress Request, Recuses Self from Election Law Complaint Over Chris Sununu’s Illegal Campaign Contributions

Concord, NH – Attorney General Gordon MacDonald has recused himself from the election law complaint filed by Granite State Progress that the Friends of Chris Sununu accepted nearly $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “We thank Attorney General MacDonald for his decision, which is in line with the high ethical standards he has been known for throughout his career. This case will be the first test of the independence of the new election enforcement unit.”

MacDonald’s former law firm, Nixon Peabody, is one of the partnerships referenced in the election law complaint. MacDonald had resigned from the firm by the time the donation was made, but Granite State Progress called for the AG to recuse himself to “avoid the appearance of impropriety” and in light of the fact that this will be one of the first major cases by the new election law investigation unit.

Deputy Attorney General Jane Young is now in charge of the investigation.

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Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.