Doing nothing is not an option. Elected officials have the responsibility to provide for the safety of our citizens and, especially, for the safety of our children. My five-year-old granddaughter recently described a safety drill she had at her daycare. She said they had to hide in a closet and kneel down so the “badmen” couldn’t get them. And she told me how she had to tell a smaller three-year-old boy to stand behind her. And I got angry. Angry for our failure to take steps that would better protect our residents and our children. Individuals have the right to own a gun for personal use, but in the DC v. Heller decision (2008) which reaffirmed that right, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose…The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on…forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Where to start?
NH is one of only eight states that either allow the concealed carry of firearms (by permit holders) at K – 12 schools or have no relevant law prohibiting it! (Source: Giffords Law Center, 2017). Our School Boards should have the authority to ban guns from school buildings and grounds. Law enforcement officers and vetted campus security employees are the only personnel that should be allowed to bring weapons on school grounds. NH is one of only six states that does not prohibit firearm possession for high risk individuals — those convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous. (Source: Washington Post, 2/20/2018). This also needs to be addressed.
NH has a large rural area and a rich tradition of hunting and outdoor activity, but other states with that tradition have taken steps to address concerns about public safety. Vermont, for example, recently took a step toward closing the private sale loophole for background checks by requiring that all gun transactions be facilitated by a licensed dealer who would perform the background checks. Some will say these changes aren’t needed or that they are too restrictive; others will say they don’t go far enough. But we need to have this discussion and we need to begin enacting common sense gun safety laws.