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Gov. Sununu Signs Bill Repealing License Requirement To Carry A Concealed Gun

Josh Rogers for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu signed his first bill into law Wednesday, repealing the license requirement to carry a concealed gun.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, is the first tangible outcome of Republican control in Concord.

The Executive Council chamber was filling up well before Governor Sununu arrived, pen in hand, to make New Hampshire the 11th state to permit what has become known as 'constitutional carry,' the ability of any lawful gun owner to carry a concealed weapon concealed.

When Sununu pushed through the crowd things got noisy.

Sununu sat at the council table, flanked by lawmakers and activists. Several of his staffers stood amid the press, cameras ready, to make sure all the celebrating was recorded for posterity.

"This is about safety, this is about making sure that our laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to that 'live free or die' spirit that makes New Hampshire the great state that it is," Sununu said.

Local second amendment groups deployed their own photographers. And NRA lobbyist John Hohenwarter traveled from Washington to praise the Governor and state lawmakers.

“I think it’s a great day for law abiding citizens.”

Credit Josh Rogers for NHPR
Governor Chris Sununu poses after the bill signing with Executive Councilor David Wheeler (to his left) and NRA lobbyist John Hohenwarter, who traveled from Washington D.C. to attend the signing.

For gun rights backers this day has been a long time coming. GOP legislatures have passed bills like this before only to see them vetoed, once by Governor Lynch, and twice by Governor Hassan. GOP leaders fast-tracked this one to get it to Governor Sununu quickly, and some who turned out to celebrate seemed bent on tying this moment to the national political moment - and its fights.

“How does fake news deal with constitutional carry here in New Hampshire?”

"I’m not sure what you mean..."

“Aren’t you NPR that’s kind of fake news, right?”

This person approached unbidden and declined to give her name. But before heading off to get a snapshot with the Governor, she said New Hampshire’s new policy on concealed weapons – which strips local law enforcement of the power to decide if an applicant for concealed weapons permit was “suitable” - is an absolute a victory for freedom and liberty.

Sununu always said he would support the bill, but rarely made it a focus as he campaigned. But as the signing ceremony broke up, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, Goffstown Republican John Burt, predicted the governor will reap lasting political benefit.

"Oh this is huge for him. He is going to have all the conservative gun right people, everyone is going to support him from here on out. This is a huge win for governor Sununu.

But wins - and losses - can mount quickly for any governor. Right-to work failed only a week ago, and that was one of Sununu’s top priorities. It was also a fight all sides said was lose-able.

This bill was close to inevitable from the start. The more telling test of Sununu’s governorship will come on issues when the outcome isn’t so assured.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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