For Immediate Release
July 6, 2015
CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan released the following message after vetoing SB 116:
“By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on July 6th, 2015, I have vetoed Senate Bill 116, repealing the license requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.
“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry permitting law has worked well for nearly a century – safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of our citizens while helping to keep the Granite State one of the safest states in the nation. Our concealed weapons permitting system gives an important oversight role to local law enforcement, while allowing for appeals through appropriate channels.
“Throughout the process on Senate Bill 116 I have heard concerns from law enforcement and public safety officials, as well as citizens across New Hampshire, about allowing individuals to carry concealed guns without a license. They oppose removing the protections that the licensing process offers to help ensure that potentially dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry hidden weapons and I share their concerns.
“I support the Second Amendment and I believe that Americans have a right to responsibly own guns for personal safety, hunting, and recreation. However, I also recognize the need to balance the rights of gun owners with the rights of all New Hampshire citizens to be safe in their communities. With this consideration, I believe that New Hampshire’s current law is appropriate and responsible.
“Further, the ability of states to responsibly and appropriately regulate the concealed carry of firearms is a standard that has been reaffirmed in its constitutional soundness time and time again by the United State Supreme Court. In the majority decision in the 2008 Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller, 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: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues ... The majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.’
“New Hampshire law already allows for the open carry of handguns without a permit, and it also ensures that an appeal process is in place when a permit is denied.
“Many proponents of Senate Bill 116 cite the states that allow the concealed carry of firearms without a permit. However, the gun laws of a state cannot be viewed in isolation of one another, and upon broader examination, many of the states referenced in testimony by proponents have far stricter regulations at the point of original purchase than New Hampshire does, including more vigorous background checks for the purchase of guns.
“Even Texas, which still issues permits for concealed carry, does so while requiring the submission of ‘Information regarding any psychiatric, drug, alcohol, or criminal history,’ in issuing its permits. In fact, according to the New Hampshire Department of Safety, as recently as 2010, the State of Texas declined to recognize New Hampshire resident pistol/revolver licenses asserting that New Hampshire gun laws do not meet the standards set forth in Texas law and stating ‘…New Hampshire authorities or agents are not required to conduct background checks, including searches of the NCIC and III databases on all applicants for a concealed handgun permit prior to issuance of the permit.’“In his book Live Free or Die, Republican Governor Mel Thomson said that the current permitting process for concealed carry in New Hampshire is ‘a sensible handgun law.’ That is as true today as it was then. By allowing Senate Bill 116 to become law, we would be eliminating a responsible step from our tradition of common-sense gun laws and in doing so compromising the public safety of our citizens. Therefore, I am vetoing Senate Bill 116.”