NH Democrats introduce firearms ban in school zones

by Wally Joe Cook | 1/18/19 3:00am

On Jan. 2, House Bill 101 — which would allow school districts to regulate firearms in school zones — was introduced by seven Democrats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Since 2011, the state of New Hampshire has had authority over the sale, ownership, use, possession and permitting of all firearms in the state. However, this new bill would redistribute some of that power to individual school districts and allow them to enforce gun-free zones.

Currently, HB 101 is in the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives. After a public hearing on the bill, the Committee on Education will vote on whether it should pass, would be inexpedient to legislate or should be studied further.

New Hampshire State Representative Dan Wolf, a Republican from Merrimack County who sits on the Committee on Education, said that HB 101 has not yet been discussed by the committee. However, Wolf offered an early observation on the proposed bill.

“I think it becomes very difficult when you have individual rules that may have pertained to one town, and you go across the border to the next town and it’s a different set of rules,” he said. “In New Hampshire, it doesn’t take long to drive from one town to another.”

College Republicans vice president Daniel Bring ’21 said that he does not support the bill.

“I’m all for more individual autonomy, but I don’t think that putting matters of security in the hands of school districts is the best move,” Bring said. “I don’t think that gun-free zones around schools are the most viable way to prevent school shootings.”

Bring said that the legislation would take power away from New Hampshire residents and give it to the members of school boards.

“These school board administrators are likely to be more politically motivated than they are to be motivated by pragmatic considerations of security,” he said. “It would have a negative impact on Second Amendment rights throughout all of New Hampshire’s communities.”

Bring said the bill is likely to be approved by the state House and Senate. However, he expects it to be vetoed by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.

“For the Democrats to make a big stand on this would not play well with New Hampshire communities,” Bring said. “This is something that people in communities throughout New Hampshire will immediately recognize the impacts of when their Second Amendment rights become restricted around school zones.”

Bring added that he would rather see legislation focused on addressing mental health issues.

College Democrats president Gigi Gunderson ’21 said she supports the bill.

“This bill comes at a pertinent time in the question of the tension between common sense gun regulation and personal gun ownership, especially in a state like New Hampshire where the culture is ‘Live Free or Die,’” Gunderson said. “We continue to support policies that make our schools and New Hampshire residents safer.”

Gunderson also connected the bill to the national conversation on gun control.

“Democrats have made it clear — especially in the wake of the Parkland shooting — that gun legislation is an issue that they are not afraid to tackle, especially in the majority,” she said.

Currently, there are 52 bills in the Committee on Education. HB 101 is scheduled to be out of committee by March 14.