New Hampshire Republicans Punt On 2A Sanctuary Bill

New Hampshire Republicans Punt On 2A Sanctuary Bill
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Earlier today I wrote about the gun control activists in Rhode Island who are angry that a ban on “high capacity” magazines isn’t likely to get a vote before the legislative session wraps up this week, despite the fact that the ban has the support of a majority of both the House and the Senate.

Oddly enough, pro-2A activists in New Hampshire might be able to commiserate with their anti-gun counterparts, at least on some level. They too know the sting of watching a legislative priority go down to defeat even though it enjoyed majority support; in this case Second Amendment Sanctuary legislation that had been approved in different forms by both the New Hampshire House and Senate.

When the House approved SB 154 a few weeks ago, it amended the Senate bill to protect against state and local law enforcement cooperating with the feds on any new gun control laws, as opposed to the bill’s original language limiting non-cooperation to the enforcement of any executive actions signed by President Joe Biden. The bill went to a conference committee comprised of both House and Senate members who came up with compromise language, but that legislation then ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from some gun rights activists in the state, who argued the compromise bill wouldn’t actually result in much of an improvement at all.

That resulted in SB 154 being tabled for the year on a 354-19 vote in the New Hampshire House of Representatives last Thursday. While Second Amendment Sanctuary legislation is dead in the water this year, GOP leaders say they’ll work on the language during the recess and are vowing to bring up the issue again next session.

“Let’s give them a chance to get this right,” Deputy House Speaker Steven Smith, R-Charlestown, said Thursday after calling for the measure to be tabled until 2022.

Democrats who voted against the measure in the House and Senate described it as a “political stunt” that would compromise public safety by easing gun control laws.

“Banning New Hampshire law enforcement and judges from helping to stop the sale and creation of illegal weapons, crack down on firearm trafficking or enact programs to reduce gun violence in our streets is not only alarming but likely unconstitutional,” Rep. Linda Harriott-Gathright, D-Nashua, said in a recent statement.

Watching Democrats lie about the intent behind SB 154 is almost as annoying as watching a good idea go down to defeat because of intra-party politicking. Second Amendment Sanctuary bills have been approved by a number of states this year, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, and Tennessee, but for some reason the particulars appear to have been too difficult for lawmakers to work through.

But let’s talk about Rep. Harriott-Gathright’s objections for a minute. It’s funny to me that she would complain about the supposed unconstitutionality of a law forbidding state and local police from cooperating with the federal government in the enforcement of federal gun control laws, given that she’s previous voted to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana in New Hampshire.

By voting for that law, Harriott-Gathright was hoping that the state of New Hampshire would, in effect, tell state and local police not to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing the federal prohibition on marijuana possession. Harriott-Gathright was fine with making the state a sanctuary for sativa and indica, but not for the Second Amendment. So why would she believe that her vote to prevent police from enforcing federal law when it came to possessing cannabis be constitutional, but the legislature’s intent in preventing law enforcement from cooperating with the feds on any new gun control laws violate the Constitution?

I’m right there with Harriott-Gathright when it comes to legalizing pot possession at the state level and telling the feds to go pound sand, but I also view that as entirely consistent with my pro-Second Amendment Sanctuary stance. I’m just wondering why she doesn’t see the inherent contradiction in the position she’s taking. She may not like the idea of a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill, but she should quit with the ridiculous claims about its constitutionality.

I would also argue that it should be easy to write a bill that ensures that police can still cooperate with federal officials on crimes of violence or even sales that are illegal under both state and federal law. After all, in Colorado it’s legal to smoke and possess pot, but the DEA still partners with state and local agencies to go after drug traffickers. Similarly, there’s nothing stopping lawmakers from writing a 2A Sanctuary bill in such a way that allows and even encourages cooperation between agencies in investigating violent crimes or illegal gun trafficking rings while still prohibiting state and local agencies from working with the federal government on non-violent, possessory crimes that are only illegal under federal law. And now that they’ve got a few months to work on the proposal, there’s no excuse for New Hampshire’s pro-gun majority to actually get it done next session.