Imagine you’re walking to your car in a parking lot. It’s dark and late, but you don’t really have much of a choice. The lot’s not overly abandoned, though. There are other people, but there aren’t a ton of folks. You’re approached by a guy who produces a knife and demands your wallet before he kills you. He’s twitchy enough, though, you’re not sure he won’t hurt you even if you cooperate.
Rather than give him your wallet, though, you pull your firearm.
Twitchy decides that maybe bringing a knife to a gunfight wasn’t one of his wisest life choices and opts to skedaddle from the area. Probably one of the smartest decisions of his life, to be sure. Unfortunately, someone saw it and calls the police.
You should be fine, right?
Well, not necessarily. In New Hampshire, as the law stands, you could be arrested for “displaying” a firearm. Now, a bill seeks to fix that, but it’s facing opposition.
While the national debate over gun control heats up, one New Hampshire bill examines the legal area before any shots are fired. HB 195 would shield “displaying a firearm” from the state’s reckless conduct law. Bill supporters argue this will protect gunowners who show a firearm to stop a crime before it happens. Opponents worry HB 195 will empower gunowners to terrorize people during conflicts.
HB 195 would add a line to the law against reckless conduct that states, “Displaying a firearm shall not constitute reckless conduct.”
The key language here is “displaying” rather than “brandishing” or another verb. The bill almost certainly wouldn’t protect someone who points a gun at an unarmed person and threatens to shoot them. However, according to the bill sponsor Rep. Michael Yakubovich (R-Hooksett), HB 195 would protect someone who carries a firearm and draws attention to this. He provided an example of a homeowner hearing a disturbance outside and leaving his house with a gun in hand.
However, some people still think that gun owners are really just all itching to look for an opportunity to threaten someone’s life, which isn’t true at all.
See, pointing a gun at someone and threatening them is and always has been a separate act. From brandishing to aggravated assault, there’s no case when you’re legally allowed to just threaten someone who isn’t threatening you or someone else. This law isn’t changing that.
What it’s doing, though, is making it so someone can’t decide you’ve committed reckless conduct for presenting your gun in a time when it should be presented.
No, this shouldn’t be an issue. Common sense should tell you that no, this isn’t reckless conduct. However, some people–a group which includes a surprising number of prosecutors and police officers–don’t seem to get that.
Changes like this prevent good people from being prosecuted simply because someone else doesn’t seem to believe people have a right to defend themselves with a firearm. We shouldn’t need protection like that, but we also shouldn’t need to defend the Second Amendment so vehemently in general, yet here we are.
Here’s hoping this one passes.