NH Red Flag Bill Passes Committee Vote

New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die,” a sentiment that many a Bearing Arms reader can relate to. After all, that’s all most gun owners really want, to live free. We don’t like the idea of the state taking away our rights, including our right to keep and bear arms.

For a long time, New Hampshire has been a rare beacon of freedom in the Northeast. They have lived up to their motto in most ways.

However, a bill recently passed out of committee would definitely require a serious examination of that motto.

Several dozen supporters and opponents squared off remotely Wednesday over red flag legislation that would permit the temporary confiscation of guns if a judge determines a person poses an “extreme risk” of violence to himself or others.

After a two-hour hearing, the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 3-2, in support of HB 687, which the House of Representatives approved in January. All three Democrats backed it. The two Republicans opposed it.

The full Senate is likely to pass the measure when it meets Monday.

Margaret Tilton, a retired physician from Exeter, said such a law would have permitted her family to take a gun away from her son, who suffered from depression and shot himself to death in 2017.

Before his death, Exeter police officials convinced him to turn over a gun he had bought earlier. He went back to a gun store and bought a second handgun, which he used to commit suicide, she said.

“The evidence was there. It was a repeated pattern of behavior,” Tilton told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Of course, it’s clear that if Tilton’s son hadn’t been able to get a gun, he’d have tried some other manner of suicide. While guns tend to be more effective as a method of suicide, that shouldn’t be taken to mean non-firearm methods are ineffective.

Not only that, but involuntary psychiatric holds are already a thing. If there’s sufficient reason to believe someone represents a risk to themselves or others, that is the method that should be pursued. Especially since someone hospitalized for treatment isn’t just being kept from shooting themselves, they’re also being prevented from pretty much every other method of suicide out there as well.

The problem with red flag laws, and why people like Tilton advocate for them, is that they don’t have as high of a burden when presenting a case to the court. They don’t have to really prove someone is a danger to themselves or others, only that someone thinks they might be, but we’re talking about a constitutionally protected right here. If you’re going to strip it from someone, it should require a much higher burden of evidence than what red flag laws require.

Luckily, there’s an upside to all of this.

While it looks like Democrats revived this bill for partisan purposes, it’s not likely to get signed into law even if it passes. Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a number of gun bills last year and while he welcomed some of those bills coming back, that doesn’t mean he’ll sign this particular zombie bill. That’s good news for Granite Staters, but they may also want to start dealing with the anti-gun lawmakers in their midst so they won’t have to rely on a governor’s veto.

I mean, that’s what I think they should do if they really still believe in “Live Free or Die.”