Jan. 1 Law Change Makes It Legal To Carry Guns In N.H. Fish And Game Refuges

Dec 28, 2012

A fish and game refuge has been one of the few places in the state where carrying a firearm remained illegal.

But on Jan. 1, 2013, that changes.

Legislation passed earlier this year and signed into law by Governor John Lynch in June legalizes the carrying of a firearm, concealed or exposed, in a fish and game refuge.

But there’s a provision making it a misdemeanor to discharge the firearm for the purposes of hunting.

It’s that second part that Chris Brison, a conservation officer with New Hampshire Fish and Game, says could be tricky to enforce.

He says he’s not sure yet how he and other officers will be able to prove someone was shooting to hunt wildlife, unless a protected animal is wounded or killed.

Calls to several sponsors of the bill this week were not returned.

During a hearing on the bill in April, prime sponsor Brian Seaworth, a Pembroke Republican, said the gun ban violated people’s right to defend themselves.

“In New Hampshire, we don’t create areas where we prohibit carrying firearms, except with very specific prohibitions for specific reasons like courts…Instead of prohibiting the carrying of a firearm, the prohibition and the penalty apply specifically to behavior that we want to restrict, which is hunting.”

New Hampshire Fish and Game did not take a position on the legislation.

The change is in law is among nearly 300 new or revised state statutes going into effect on Jan. 1.