Gun control bills defeated in House, Senate

Mar. 9—CONCORD — Several gun control bills went down to defeat while the House of Representatives voted Thursday to permit citizens to possess blackjacks, metal knuckles and slung shots, which a metal ball attached to a strap that can be used as a weapon.

Despite the tight 201-198 House Republican majority, gun advocates convinced a few House Democrats to join them to reject these bills by comfortable margins.

State Rep. Loren Selig, D-Durham, said the state should have its own gun-free school zone law (HB 32).

"This issue is simple. We do not need firearms in our schools. While federal law establishes 'gun-free school zones' for the conduct of students, gaps in state law allow for members of the public to bring firearms onto school campuses, jeopardizing the safety of our kids, their teachers, and school resource officers," Selig said.

Rep. Jennifer Rhodes, R-Winchester, said most shootings across the country occur in places where law-abiding gun owners can't carry their firearm.

"These gun-free zones only make criminals of the people who might have been able to at the least try to protect our vulnerable children while they wait for law enforcement, which could be minutes or even hours away," Rhodes said.

The House voted down the bill, 199-174.

The House also struck down bills to require criminal background checks for all commercial gun sales (HB 59) and to adopt a red flag law (HB 106) that would let a judge decide to seize the guns of people thought to be a danger to themselves or others.

And they set aside legislation (HB 78) which would have repealed a 2022 law that blocks state law enforcement from enforcing new federal gun control measures or executive orders.

"Every single legislator who voted against these measures is responsible for the epidemic of gun violence that continues to harm our communities and our futures," said Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress, a pro-gun control group.

Rep. Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, said New Hampshire is much safer than many states that have far more restrictions on the 2nd Amendment than here.

As for legalizing blackjacks, slung shots and metal knuckles (HB 31), supporters said a U.S. Supreme Court decision has concluded that outlawing these devices is unconstitutional.

"They are still useful for self-defense and should not be banned while other more lethal weapons are not," Roy said.

Using these devices to commit a crime would be a deadly weapon, Roy added.

A 196-176 vote sent that bill to the state Senate.