AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File
New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die.”
It’s a noble sentiment and one that has historically described the state’s politics to some degree. Despite their location in the northeastern United States, it’s far more likely than its neighbors to back Republican candidates and has long been one of the most pro-gun states in the nation. New Hampshire’s gun laws, or lack thereof, tends to be a role model for other pro-gun states to follow.
But that may be about to change as the state Senate is set to hear three gun control bills.
Three bills aimed at tightening New Hampshire’s gun laws were heard by a New Hampshire Senate committee today. The hearing revealed a sharp divide on policies that may get decided by Governor Chris Sununu.
One bill would mandate background checks on all gun sales; another would create a seven-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm.
The third would limit the carrying of firearms on school property to law enforcement, members of the military and those authorized by the local school board.
Unsurprisingly, anti-gun lawmakers are touting these as “common sense” measures meant to keep New Hampshire residents safe. Of course, thanks to the state’s almost non-existent gun laws, the state’s crime rate is well below the national average, which suggests people are already pretty damn safe in the Granite State.
That’s because gun control isn’t about safety. It’s about comfort.
Anti-gun lawmakers are trying to solve a problem, but the problem is that they’re not thrilled with the great, unwashed masses having the means to defend themselves. They can’t repeal the right to keep and bear arms completely, so they want to dissuade people from buying a gun by making it so much of a pain in the rump they’ll be disinclined to do so.
They’re not worried about people’s safety. If they were, they’d recognize that what’s in place in the state is working out pretty well.
There were 17,284 murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the United States last year, a decrease of 0.7 percent from 2016. New Hampshire recorded 14 such crimes in 2017, down from 19 the year before.
The overall violent crime rate in the state was barely half the national rate, with just under 200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2017. That rate was essentially unchanged from 2016, but the rate of property crimes in the state fell sharply from year to year, from 1,582 to 1,382 per 100,000, a drop of more than 9 percent.
What’s in place is working.
Now, I’m not someone who doesn’t think there’s room for improvement, but guess what? New gun laws aren’t an improvement, especially since there’s nothing in these proposals that would have any impact on crime.
Universal background checks don’t impact black market sales, waiting periods don’t prevent premeditated murder and school shooters routinely ignore the gun free zone signs on the front door. None of these bills will reduce New Hampshire’s paltry crime rate.
But it will interfere with law-abiding citizens going about their lives. I think that’s the point.