On Monday, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan made good on a promise to gun control advocates when she vetoed Senate Bill 116, which would repeal the requirement for a concealed firearms permit in the state.
Back in April, Hassan said she would not sign the legislation if it came to her desk after receiving postcards from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which opposed the bill.
“I support the Second Amendment and I believe that Americans have a right to responsibly own guns for personal safety, hunting, and recreation. However, I also recognize the need to balance the rights of gun owners with the rights of all New Hampshire citizens to be safe in their communities. With this consideration, I believe that New Hampshire’s current law is appropriate and responsible,” Hassan stated in a press release after the veto.
Introduced by Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), SB 116 would allow gun owners to carry concealed handguns without a license, a provision that many have come to call “constitutional carry.” The bill would also direct the State Police to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states to recognize their licenses, while at the same time preserving the current permitting system so that New Hampshire gun owners may be able to carry concealed weapons while traveling to other states. SB 116 was very popular with Republican lawmakers and was backed by the NRA, which called the bill “critical” for gun owners in the state.
“This was a common sense bill that would have protected law-abiding gun owners from inadvertently breaking the law,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director for NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Since lawful gun owners in New Hampshire can already carry firearms openly without a permit, they should not become criminals just because they put on a jacket or place their firearm in a purse or briefcase.”
Cox criticized Hassan for “caving in” to powerful and wealthy gun control advocates, such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Governor Hassan’s veto sends a clear message that she is listening to billionaire gun-control activist Michael Bloomberg over New Hampshire voters,” continued Cox. “On behalf of the NRA’s five-million members, I am disappointed Governor Hassan has chosen to disrespect the constitutional rights of her constituents.”
The NRA added that states with constitutional or permitless carry have seen their crime rates dip since the laws went into effect. Alaska has seen a 23 percent drop in murder rates since permitless carry was passed, and Arizona and Wyoming also saw 16 and eight percent drops, respectively.
Opponents of the bill, such as the New Hampshire chapter of Moms Demand Action, say differently. Gun control advocates argue that removing the license requirement would allow dangerous individuals to carry hidden weapons and compromise public safety.
“Today, Governor Hassan heeded the call of moms across the state and stood up for the safety of all Granite Staters,” said Amy Moore, volunteer leader of the New Hampshire Moms Demand Action chapter. “Governor Hassan’s decision to veto SB 116 will keep our state’s common-sense concealed carry permitting system in place, which will continue to protect us all.”
Since the bill passed by a narrow margin, observers doubt that either the House or the Senate has a majority to override the veto. Meanwhile, lawmakers in nearby Maine are waiting to see if Governor Paul LePage is willing to sign a constitutional carry bill in that state. LePage, a staunch gun rights supporter, previously criticized that bill for making too many compromises.