Sununu Vetoes Gun Bills, Says They Wouldn't Stop 'Evil Individuals From Doing Harm'

Aug 9, 2019

Saying they would not "prevent evil individuals from doing harm," Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed three gun bills Friday.

Gun control advocates were calling on the governor to sign them into law, and to take action after last weekend's mass shootings.

The legislation called for requiring background checks for commercial firearms sales, imposing a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, and restricting possession of firearms on school property. The third bill would have prohibited carrying a firearm on school property, with police officers among the exceptions.

"New Hampshire is one of the safest states in the nation, and we have a long and proud tradition of responsible firearm stewardship," Sununu said in his veto message. "Our laws are well-crafted and fit our culture of responsible gun ownership and individual freedom."

Sununu said the country must focus on addressing "the root causes of hate and violence." He cited mental health needs, and the state's new Civil Rights Unit to partly focus on hate crimes.

The two-term Republican governor has now vetoed 50 bills this year. Democrats are in majority control of both the House and Senate.

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None of the bills passed the Legislature with enough votes to override a veto.

Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, says the legislation reflected the will of Granite Staters.

"Since there have been more mass shootings than days this year, our thoughts and prayers are empty gestures without the courage and conviction to act to prevent future tragedies," Soucy said in a statement. "That's why it is so deeply disappointing that in the midst of a national crisis and in the wake of two mass shootings, Governor Sununu is holding New Hampshire back from making progress on gun violence prevention with his vetoes of three common sense public safety bills, including background checks — which 90% of Americans support."

Dick Hinch, the N.H. House Republican Leader, echoed Sununu's remarks that the bills would have negligible effect on public safety. “These bills are an unnecessary attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist in our state," Hinch said. "This excessive government overreach has the potential to make criminals out of responsible gun owners."

(This post was further updated Friday. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)