CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A bill allowing guns to be taken from people who present a danger to themselves or others is on its way to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who is likely to veto it.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, voted 14-10 along party lines Monday in favor of the bill, which would allow relatives or police to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms. Nineteen other states and Washington, D.C., have enacted so called “red flag” laws, but Sununu has said he doesn't support any changes to New Hampshire gun laws.
Supporters argue the measure is needed in a state where the suicide rate is rising faster than elsewhere and would be used only in cases of extreme risk.
In an emotional speech, Sen. Jon Morgan, D-Brentwood, described losing both an aunt and uncle to suicide.
“For 45 and a half years, my grandmother carried around that agony, that pain, that no parent should ever have to bear,” he said. “It is my hope, it is my prayer that today, we might reflect on how our actions, while they won’t solve all the problems of suicide or mental health or addiction ... they might just make it so one family out there, maybe 10, maybe 100, one grandmother, one mémère, doesn’t have to go through the experience I just shared with you.”
Opponents counter that the bill violates not only the right to own firearms, but also other constitutional guarantees, such as the right to due legal process, to confront an accuser, and against unreasonable searches and seizures of property.
Sen. Sharon Carson, D-Londonderry, objected because the bill includes no requirement that the gun owner undergo a psychiatric evaluation
“All it's going to take is someone who knows this individual to say, ‘I think there’s something wrong with him,'" she said. “It's not fair. It's not how we do things.”