New Hampshire rejects gun control after mass shootings
New Hampshire's Republican-led Legislature rejected several gun control measures after the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip last fall and the school shooting in Florida in February, choosing instead to expand a law on where firearms can be carried.
An Associated Press review of all firearms-related legislation passed this year showed that state legislatures across the country mostly fell back into predictable and partisan patterns. New Hampshire, where Republicans control both legislative chambers, was no exception.
The Senate in February rejected a bill to ban bump stocks that allow for firing weapons at dramatically faster rates — a device used by the Las Vegas gunman in the massacre that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured. Democrats then pressed for a task force of lawmakers and outside stakeholders to study the issue, but Republicans essentially shelved the bill.
The school shooting in Parkland, Florida, came after state deadlines to file legislation, though Democrats tried unsuccessfully to suspend the rules or otherwise get around them in order to advance new gun control measures in response. In March, the House blocked the introduction of a bill that would have both banned bump stocks and prohibited those under age 21 from buying any type of gun. The age limit provision would not have applied to active-duty military members or law enforcement officers.
Also in March, the Senate struck down an amendment to an existing education bill that would have allowed school boards to prohibit guns on school grounds and school buses. That vote came just hours after students held walkouts and demonstrations at several high schools to protest gun violence.
The House also killed several gun-related bills, including one that would have prohibited the open carrying of guns in any public building, hospitals, bars, polling places, houses of worship and entertainment venues with more than 5,000 seats. Another would have allowed guns to be carried on public college and university campuses.
The only bill related to firearms that passed in the last year was a Senate bill that removed the prohibition on carrying a loaded rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader or air rifle in a snowmobile, aircraft, off-road vehicle or stationary motor vehicle.
State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Democrat from Manchester, said he was disappointed but not surprised that the gun-control measures failed.
"We're the 'Live Free or Die' state," he said. "I think it's very difficult to get anything done here, now."