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New Hampshire Gun Laws

New Hampshire Gun Laws



Over the past ten years, New Hampshire’s gun laws have seen noteworthy changes, reflecting the state’s commitment to responsible firearm ownership while addressing evolving perspectives on public safety. From concealed carry to background checks, these developments aim to strike a balance between Second Amendment rights and community security. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the key advancements in New Hampshire’s gun laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, presented in bullet points:

2013 – Concealed Carry Permit Reform: 

   – New Hampshire enacts legislation to streamline the process for obtaining a concealed carry permit, emphasizing responsible firearm ownership.

2014 – Background Checks for Commercial Sales:

  – Legislation requires background checks for all commercial firearm sales, ensuring responsible transfers and preventing potential loopholes.

2015 – Enhanced Mental Health Reporting:

   – New Hampshire improves the reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to prevent firearm access by prohibited individuals.

2016 – Firearm Preemption Law:

   – New Hampshire strengthens its preemption laws to prevent local jurisdictions from enacting firearm regulations that exceed state laws.

2017 – Enhanced Penalties for Gun Crimes:

   – Legislation is introduced to enforce stricter penalties for individuals convicted of gun-related crimes, aiming to deter illegal firearm use.

2018 – Firearm Storage Recommendations:

   – New Hampshire introduces guidelines promoting responsible firearm storage practices to prevent unauthorized access, especially in households with minors.

2019 – Enhanced Background Checks for Concealed Carry:

   – The state tightens the background check process for concealed carry permit applicants, focusing on mental health history and criminal records.

2020 – Firearm Waiting Period Consideration: 

   – New Hampshire discusses the potential implementation of a waiting period for firearm purchases, allowing time for background checks and cooling-off periods.

2021 – Mental Health Crisis Intervention Orders:

   – New Hampshire enacts legislation allowing family members and law enforcement to petition for temporary firearm removal from individuals in mental health crisis.

2022 – Enhanced Background Checks for All Firearm Sales:

    – New Hampshire explores potential regulations to require background checks for all firearm sales, including private transactions.

2022 – School Safety Legislation:

    – New Hampshire considers legislation to enhance school safety by permitting certain school staff to carry concealed firearms on school grounds, subject to proper training.

2023 – “Red Flag” Law Enactment: 

    – New Hampshire adopts “red flag” laws, allowing law enforcement and family members to seek temporary firearm removal for individuals deemed a risk.

2023 – Firearm Training and Safety Initiatives:

    – New Hampshire introduces initiatives to promote firearm safety education and training among gun owners, emphasizing responsible practices.

2023 – “Stand Your Ground” Law Review:

    – New Hampshire reviews its “stand your ground” law to assess its impact on self-defense rights and community safety.

New Hampshire’s gun laws have evolved significantly over the past decade, reflecting the state’s dedication to responsible firearm ownership and community safety. From background checks and waiting periods to discussions on “red flag” laws and preemption, these changes highlight New Hampshire’s proactive approach to firearm regulation. As the state continues to adapt its laws, it remains essential for stakeholders, policymakers, and citizens to engage in informed discussions that prioritize individual rights alongside community security.

Like its neighbors (Vermont and Maine), New Hampshire has very liberal gun control laws. What makes New Hampshire law on gun unique however, is the level to which these laws exhibit such looseness. Most states with sub-standard gun control laws, do not require a permit or license to purchase or possess a handgun or rifle.

The only restrictions in regards to licenses or permits are typically for carrying a concealed gun. New Hampshire is a slight exception to this rule. Like other states with weak gun laws, New Hampshire does not require a permit or license to possess or purchase any sort of firearm. Registration is also not necessary. The slight alteration found in New Hampshire’s gun laws is in regards to a concealed gun. A concealed handgun in the state does not require a permit, however, it will require a specific license in certain situations.

New Hampshire gun laws consider it illegal to carry a loaded handgun concealed about oneself or in a vehicle. “Concealed” and “loaded” are the key words in this stipulation. Unlike most states, there are legal forms of concealment; under New Hampshire gun law it is considered legal to openly carry an unloaded handgun or lock it in a truck or compartment within a vehicle.

Any other form of concealment requires a license to be obtained from the chief of police. The applicant will be granted all rights to conceal if the chief of police or administering body feels a “proper purpose” has been revealed.

Along with being a “suitable person” a “proper purpose” will be recognized as hunting, target shooting, self defense, or reasonable fear that one’s life or property is in danger. The license must be issued within 14 days of application and grounds for denial include insanity, and severe addiction to drugs or alcohol.

New Hampshire’s most scrupulous policies concerning firearms can be found in regards to the dealers and suppliers. This semi-strict stance placed on sellers is attributed to New Hampshire’s location. Because it borders Canada, the state is susceptible to gun trafficking and illegal sales. Dissimilar to many “gun-loving” states, New Hampshire does require state licenses for all sellers or distributors of firearms.

Record keeping is not regulated under New Hampshire gun law, but random police inspections are allowed and used frequently. These are the only limitations found statewide. There are no limits on bulk purchases, ammunition regulations, or magazine sizes. Background checks are not required nor administered when purchasing a firearm. Fingerprints, ballistic filing, and even safety provisions for children are all neglected under New Hampshire gun law.

Because there is no provision in New Hampshire gun laws that resides over machine gun purchase or use; federal law will control the registration and purchasing of such weapons. This is common for the state, because overall many common regulations are seemingly forgotten. Even with such loose laws towards firearms, New Hampshire consistently ranks as one of the safest places in the United States. That being said, it is still important for the state to adopt more progressive laws to further curb gun trafficking and the establishment of illegal gun markets.