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Sununu 'not looking to make any changes' to N.H. gun laws after Texas school shooting

Governor Chris Sununu gestures during a press conference in his office in June 2022
Todd Bookman
"As a dad ... you want to wrap everything in bubble wrap," Sununu told reporters during a Wednesday press conference. "It's just not like that. Everybody has to be part of a community-wide solution."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story included inaccurate information about New Hampshire's school safety task force. It was updated on June 2 to reflect that the task force most recently met in May 2022.

Gov. Chris Sununu said he sees no need to modify New Hampshire’s gun laws in the wake of the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but state officials are taking other steps to shore up the safety of local students and staff.

“Unfortunately, there is no community, there is no state that is immune from a crisis like we saw in Texas,” Sununu told reporters at a Wednesday press conference. “There is no law that is just going to be passed. So we have to be preventative, we have to be aggressive — we have to understand that, you know, treat every kid as an individual, look at every situation in an individual manner.”

Asked repeatedly whether he sees any room for tighter firearms laws, Sununu said “we’re not looking to make any changes.” Instead, he pointed to other policy responses to reduce the risk of this kind of violence — like programs encouraging social and emotional skills in schools, and efforts to improve building security.

He also pointed to work done by a school safety task force he convened after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people. That panel issued a report and recommendations in 2018 and last met in May 2022.

In the last five years, the state has given about $28 million to schools for infrastructure upgrades aimed at increasing security and preventing an active shooter from entering the building. The Department of Education says that unless more money is appropriated, about $3.3 million remains available to schools for the coming year.

The Public School Infrastructure Commission that oversees this process has not met since 2020. It is set to meet on Thursday, June 2.

The top official at the New Hampshire Department of Safety also said his agency is reviewing safety and emergency communications plans at every New Hampshire school in light of the Uvalde shooting.

“I will say there's no higher priority right now than working on what we've done and identifying any gaps and any vulnerabilities, and ensuring we firm those up,” Safety Commissioner Bob Quinn told the governor and executive council during their Wednesday meeting.

As schools in New Hampshire and elsewhere work to increase security, some experts and policy makers are questioning whether this approach prevents mass shootings.

Investigators in Uvalde are still examining what led to the shooting, but early reports indicate that the district’s up-to-date security plan and investment in a school police force did not prevent the shooter from entering the elementary school and killing 21 people.

Moving forward, Sununu said preventing future tragedies will require a “community-wide solution.”

“Are you constantly working with your teachers, your parents and the kids themselves, most importantly, to make sure that you have a true understanding of what risks might be out there, how you're mitigating those as best you can?” he said. “But unfortunately, nobody's immune.”

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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