Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has told New Hampshire’s Democrat-controlled state legislature that gun control isn’t on his radar but that didn’t stop three such bills from reaching his desk.
The measures, to require background checks on private firearms transfers, expand “gun-free zones” around schools, and create a waiting period on gun sales, have been sent to Sununu in recent weeks on largely party-line votes. Sununu, who replaced Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in 2017, said he “absolutely” plans to veto several Dem priorities to include the gun legislation. A Sununu spokesman further explained the governor is not looking to make any changes to existing gun laws.
Of the measures, HB 109 would bar private firearms transfers in most cases without a background check performed by a licensed dealer. The National Rifle Association argues that the exemptions in the bill for private individuals “are effectively useless.”
The second bill, HB 514, would tack on an extra three days to the time between a gun purchase and its transfer. The time excludes weekends and holidays. Only 10 states currently have waiting period requirements on guns, ranging from 24 hours to 14 days.
The third bill, HB 564, was sent to Sununu last week and aims to further narrow who can bring legal firearms on school grounds. Lawful gun owners with a firearm in their vehicle — New Hampshire is a constitutional carry state — would be subject to a class “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,000 fine, should they step out of their car with a gun, even while picking up a student. The NRA argues such a move would require gun owners to unnecessarily handle firearms already securely holstered and leave them in their vehicle if exiting.
The bills are championed by national anti-gun groups such as Everytown and Giffords who paint them as needed for public safety although New Hampshire is well below the national averages for violent crime and is one of the safest states in the country.
As for Sununu, he has already vetoed the state legislature’s budget and is girding for further skirmishes with lawmakers. None of the three gun control bills on his desk passed with enough support to override a veto.