Pappas Weighs In On Gun Control, Transportation Needs, And Climate Change

Sep 5, 2019

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, was a guest Sept. 5 on NHPR's The Exchange.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Congressman Chris Pappas spoke with The Exchange on a variety of issues including climate change legislation, background checks, and the I-93 expansion.  Here are some highlights from that conversation. 

Listen to the show and read the transcript. 

Do you support a carbon tax?

Several Democratic presidential candidates at a town hall forum on CNN embraced a carbon tax, which has long been controversial among conservatives, who call it an "energy tax." 

Pappas said, "It's not an idea that I've signed on to at this point in time, but I think it needs to be part of the full discussion."

He said that a carbon tax proposal puts incentives in the right place, and that the federal government needs to help transition away from carbon energy sources to renewable energy more quickly. 

"I've worked at the state level on ensuring that we provide incentives for renewable energy development in New Hampshire, and we need to be doing a lot more."

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How do projects like the I-93 expansion coexist with concerns about climate change, and calls for more public transportation?

Pappas said the state needs to continue to invest in public transportation like buses alongside projects like the Interstate 93 expansion.

"The bus service along I-93 is one of the most successful new bus services in the country," he said. "Manchester is already served by freight rail with some minimal upgrades. We can see passenger service on that corridor, and so I think it is the more cost effective alternative to develop that particular corridor." 

Pappas said transportation infrastructure is one clear example of the impact of climate change in the state.

"I was in the town of Newmarket, and they're installing a new culvert on a road that had been blocking Great Bay [Estuary] from being able to flow freely," he said. "It's become basically a dam under certain circumstances, with increased storms."

He said ensuring infrastructure resiliency should be a priority, especially on the coastline.

What aspects of the current background check system do you think should change?

The man who killed seven people and injured 22 in early September in Odessa, Texas, acquired a gun through a private sale after he failed a background check.

"Most individuals will purchase a weapon through a licensed dealer, they will go through a check. Why shouldn't everyone have to go through the same check?" he said. "I think there's clearly a loophole in the law that has to be repaired."

Pappas has called for increased investment in the background check system, and supported "red-flag laws" at the federal level. He also cosponsored a federal ban on the sale of assault-style weapons

When asked how an assault rifle is defined with respect to this legislation, Pappas said he would need to refer to the legislation itself, but that it comes down to the military style characteristics of the weapon.

He said, "We need to ensure that these dangerous weapons that are used in war, in theaters across the world by our military, aren't getting into the hands of individuals that seek to kill others or to cause harm to their community." 

You can listen to the entire conversation here.