New Hampshire House Rejects Allowing Voluntary Waiver Of Gun Ownership Rights

FILE - State Rep. David Meuse, D-Portsmouth, speaks to gun control supporters outside the New Hampshire Statehouse in Concord, N.H., on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024.  The New Hampshire House on Thursday, Feb. 22,  narrowly rejected creating a process by which people could voluntarily prohibit themselves from buying guns. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer, File)
FILE - State Rep. David Meuse, D-Portsmouth, speaks to gun control supporters outside the New Hampshire Statehouse in Concord, N.H., on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. The New Hampshire House on Thursday, Feb. 22, narrowly rejected creating a process by which people could voluntarily prohibit themselves from buying guns. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire House on Thursday narrowly rejected creating a process by which people could voluntarily prohibit themselves from buying guns.

Three other states — Utah, Virginia and Washington — already allow people to voluntarily waive their rights to own firearms and add themselves to the federal database of prohibited purchasers, said Rep. David Meuse, a Portsmouth Democrat and sponsor of the defeated bill. His inspiration was a woman who, devasted by her son’s suicide in 2022, said the bill could help prevent her from acting on her own thoughts of suicide.

“The bottom line is, it’s not a decision about whether or not to own a firearm. It’s a personal health care decision and a case study in empowering the freedom of choice in a state where many of us like to loudly proclaim how much we treasure personal liberty,” he said.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee had recommended passing the bill, but it failed on a vote of 179-200, with all but seven Democrats supporting it and all but one Republican opposing it.

Those who spoke against it expressed doubt that removing oneself from the prohibited list would be as easy as supporters claimed.

“The FBI does not have any obligation to take anybody’s name off of the list, regardless of what the state says,” said Rep. Jennifer Rhodes, a Republican from Winchester. “There’s always free cheese in the mousetrap.”

Rep. Terry Roy, a Republican from Deerfield, said people could end up pressured to give up their “God-given right” to own guns.

“What if, for example, you are involved with a psychiatrist you’ve seen for years and you depend on for your mental health says to you, ‘If you want to continue seeing me, you have to put your name on this registry,’” Roy said. “You now have a choice: Keep your Second Amendment rights or lose your doctor.”

Though they disagreed on that bill, Roy and Meuse are co-sponsoring another gun-related bill. That measure, which has yet to come up for a vote, was filed in response to the fatal shooting of a security guard at New Hampshire Hospital in November. The bill would require the state to submit information about those who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities to the federal database that gun dealers use for background checks.