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N.H. House Votes to Let People Carry Loaded Guns on ATVs and Snowmobiles

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Chris Jensen for NHPR
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The New Hampshire House voted to allow people to carry loaded guns on ATVs, snowmobiles and other off-highway recreational vehicles. A bill lifting existing restrictions passed 181-148 on Thursday but will still need Senate approval before taking effect.

Goffstown Rep. John Burt was among those leading the charge to remove the ban that’s currently in place, and said the change is needed in light of recent changes to the state’s concealed carry law.

Burt also said he was acting on calls he got from off-road riders all across the state – including a tree farmer trying to fend off invading porcupines.

“I guess — I did not know this — but porcupines raise havoc with tree farmers,” Burt told his colleagues during a floor debate on Thursday. “And he wants the right to be on his private property, with a loaded rifle on his four wheeler, and drive down his fields, where his trees are, and dispose of these porcupines that are raising havoc on his trees.”

Other lawmakers warned that removing the ban altogether would be too dangerous, opening the door to guns firing unintentionally while navigating rocky terrain.

To address these concerns, Hebron Rep. Suzanne Smith instead tried to introduce an amendment that kept the ban on loaded rifles in place but allowed exceptions for pistols, revolvers and guns carried by on-duty officers.

“Unfortunately, passage of the bill without the amendment will create a direct conflict with RSA 207:7 which prohibits the carrying of loaded rifles, shotguns, and crossbows on or in vehicles, including OHRVs and snowmobiles,” Smith wrote in one recent edition of the House calendar.

In the end, the House rejected that amendment and approved the less restrictive original version of the bill.

Casey McDermott is an editor and reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio, where she works with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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