A bill looking to eliminate New Hampshire’s permit requirement for carrying a concealed firearm has passed committee and now heads to the full Senate for the third year in a row.
Tuesday’s hearing lasted nearly three hours with about 20 people testifying both for and against the repeal.
Those for keeping this requirement argued that it improves public safety. Those for repeal said it gives law enforcement too much discretion in choosing who can carry a concealed weapon.
According to state law, local police chiefs have the right to deny someone a license if they are deemed “unsuitable.”
Susan Olsen of the Women’s Defense League said that standard is too subjective. “What suitable means in my town of Warner maybe very different than it is in the city of Franklin and Nashua and the towns of Hudson, Hanover and Sandown,” Olsen told lawmakers.
But police officials have testified in the past that the law works, arguing that few permit requests are denied each year. And Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress told lawmakers this discretion is needed.
“Law enforcement in a local community would have some sense of one’s character and whether they were a suitable person," Rice Hawkins said. "So, they might not be a prohibited person from possessing firearms in general, but are they somebody who should have that added ability to legally carry a hidden loaded weapon?”
If this measure clears the Republican Senate and House, Gov. Chris Sununu has said he will sign it.