Gun Owners Cite Constitutional Rights In Objection To Open Carry Bill

Feb 21, 2013

Don Gorman of Deerfield, a firearm instructor, removed his jacket to expose two firearms - one on each hip - during a hearing on HB 290 on Thursday.
Credit Michael Brindley/NHPR

Gun owners came out to the capitol in force Thursday to object to a bill that would make it illegal to open carry a pistol or revolver in a public building without a permit.

Holding up a copy of the New Hampshire constitution, Steven Stefanik of Manchester told lawmakers their oath required them to reject the bill.

“You can make laws, but you can’t go against the Constitution, and I just read you article 2A: we all have the right to keep and bear arms, any place, anytime we want to protect ourselves, our state, our families and our property.”

Several speakers took objection to the stiff penalty – a class B felony – for those found to be in violation.

Prime sponsor Delmar Burridge, a Keene Democrat, stood by the bill, saying it was a fair penalty.

At one point, a speaker during testimony removed his jacket to reveal a firearm on each hip.

The bill was one of several firearm-related proposals heard by the criminal justice and public safety committee Thursday.

Another would repeal the requirement for concealed carry permits.