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NH considering red flag gun confiscation bill

US House Committee (Jiang/WikiCommons)
March 07, 2019

A “red flag” gun confiscation bill is under consideration in New Hampshire as proponents argue it’s a solution to reduce gun violence and suicides.

The bill, argued before a House committee in Concord on Tuesday, would permit extreme-risk protective orders, allowing family members and law enforcement to ask the courts to remove guns from individuals that could be of harm to themselves or others, WMUR 9 News reported.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham said, “The intentions of the purpose of this bill is to address the gap in current New Hampshire statutes that leave families and law enforcement powerless when they see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears a loved one in crisis.”

Many gathered together in Representatives Hall to attend the meeting held before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee that had a high focus on suicide prevention.

The advocacy group Moms Demand Action were in attendance and all dressed in red T-shirts. Opponents of the bill sported strands of pearls to show support of the New Hampshire gun rights group, Women’s Defense League.

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One mother, Margaret Tilton, lost her son in 2017 by suicide with a firearm. She said, “All of us — George’s family, his friends, his roommates, law enforcement — tried to do the best we could with the means available to us. We know there are better tools out there. We ask you to give us access to them.”

Challengers of the bill say it is a violation of the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, and eliminates the right to due process.

Rep. Al Baldasaro said, “Show me where is the issue in New Hampshire that we’re trying to fix. We’re all watching TV. Seeing what’s going on in Chicago, Detroit, D.C. That’s not New Hampshire.”

Others say that the bill has a solid foundation but needs some work.

Red flag confiscation laws have been passed in 14 states so far, and several other states are debating or considering a bill, AP News reported.

In June, the CDC recognized New Hampshire as having one of the “largest increases in suicide rates compared to other states, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for residents ages 15-34. In the last five years, there were just over 1,100 suicide deaths, and nearly half involved a firearm.”

Altschiller said, “When faced with these kinds of facts, what do we do? Do we throw up our hands and say, ‘This is terrible’? No. We take action.”