Republican, Democrat Team Up on NH Gun Bill

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

New Hampshire is a pro-gun state despite being surrounded by gun control. They seem to take that whole “Live free or die” thing on their license plates pretty seriously, which I totally respect.


Anti-gunners there have long looked at ways to change that, but they’ve been stymied time and time again. That’s great.

Yet now there’s a gun bill up for consideration with a self-described pro-Second Amendment Republican is teaming with a Democrat in order to keep certain people from buying firearms.

Two of the House’s most ardent gun legislation advocates – a Republican who’s fought for gun rights and a Democrat who has advocated for gun control – are partnering on a bill that would add certain mental health records to background checks for firearm purchases.

Federal law prohibits anyone who has been adjudicated mentally ill or committed to a psychiatric hospital from buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer or possessing a firearm. But there’s a loophole in New Hampshire because it is among about a dozen states that do not require that those mental health records be submitted to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases.

Similar legislation that would have closed that gap failed several years ago. This bill’s bipartisan sponsorship increases its chances of passing, as does the House Rules Committee’s 9-0 vote Tuesday to allow the legislation to be submitted after the House’s September filing deadline.

Reps. Terry Roy, a Deerfield Republican, and David Meuse, a Portsmouth Democrat, have been on opposite sides of firearms legislation in the past.

They told the committee their joint effort on this bill is a response to the Nov. 17 fatal shooting of New Hampshire Hospital security officer Bradley Haas by John Madore, who was subject to at least one involuntary emergency admission to the psychiatric hospital following a 2016 arrest on assault and reckless conduct charges, according to court records.


So, it this a good thing or not?

My knee-jerk reaction is to oppose this on general principle. Involuntary psychiatric admission to a hospital, particularly on an emergency basis, isn’t grounds for someone to lose their rights for the rest of their life. Especially because there may not be grounds for holding anyone other than some initial concerns.

In short, they might not be a danger to themselves or others.

But if people are prohibited by federal law and New Hampshire isn’t including those records into NICS, then some disturbed people may well be able to buy a firearm. It’s against the law to do so, but if the dealer doesn’t know, he’s unlikely to refuse the sale. Not unless the customer says some disturbing things.

And this is New Hampshire, where anti-gunners are continually trying to change state gun laws. I suppose if this is the worst they get out of 2024, they’re doing pretty good since it doesn’t actually prevent anyone who can legally buy a gun from doing anything they couldn’t the year prior.


My question is whether or not this is really as big of a thing as some are thinking.

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