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Permission not Required: “Constitutional Carry” Bill Approved by New Hampshire Committee

CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 13, 2017) –  Yesterday, a New Hampshire Senate committee gave approval to a “Constitutional Carry” bill. If passed into law, it would make it legal for people in New Hampshire to carry a concealed firearm without a license, and foster an environment hostile to federal gun control.

A coalition of 19 sponsors introduced Senate Bill 12 (SB12) on Jan. 5. The legislation would allow any person “not otherwise prohibited by statute from possessing a firearm in the state of New Hampshire” to carry a concealed firearm.

“The availability of a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver under this section or under any other provision of law shall not be construed to impose a prohibition on the unlicensed transport or carry of a firearm in a vehicle, or on or about one’s person, whether openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, by a resident, nonresident, or alien if that individual is not otherwise prohibited by statute from possessing a firearm in the state of New Hampshire.”

SB12 would leave the current conceal carry licensing process in place in New Hampshire, but would extend the length of time a license remains valid from 4 to 5 years. This would allow New Hampshire residents who want to carry a concealed firearm in state with reciprocity to obtain a license.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to give the bill an “Ought to Pass” recommendation for the full Senate. The bill is expected to be debated there on Jan. 19th.

“Constitutional carry is a big step toward being able to exercise a natural right that has been infringed at all levels for far too long,” ShallNot.org policy lead Scott Landreth said.

While constitutional carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway. The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”

Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.

State actions like passage of SB12 would lower barriers for those wanting to the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.

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SB12 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it will need to get a favorable recommendation for the best chance of moving forward in the legislative process.

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