It is possible to respect the Second Amendment and meaningfully reduce gun violence; indeed, we have a responsibility to do so. Whether due to suicide, mass shootings, homicide, or domestic violence, gun deaths destroy the lives of individuals and their loved ones, threaten our sense of community and safety, and steal the innocence of our youth. Our elected leaders must have both the competence to observe what works, and the courage to act on it. Here's how:
1. Universal Background Checks
Currently, background checks are required only for licensed dealers for handguns and long guns; private sales are not subject to background checks at either the state or federal level. We should require background checks for all transfers of firearms, including private transfers. In addition, New Hampshire should assure that its background check includes those who commit domestic violence, hate crimes, and those with a demonstrated history of harming themselves.
2. Red Flag Laws
In a number of states, mental illness, escalating threats, substance abuse and domestic violence, are some of the circumstances under which a judge can order weapons restrictions. Family members, guardians, and law enforcement officials may ask the courts for such a temporary restriction where warning signs of violence are present.
3. 48-Hour Waiting Period
Particularly in the area of gun-related suicide, states which have instituted a short-term waiting period before a firearm can be transferred have seen meaningful decreases in such suicide attempts. Almost two-thirds of gun deaths in the U.S. are due to suicide (and about 93% of NH gun deaths) largely because of the lethal nature of firearms. Data show that 90% of suicide attempts involving a discharged firearm lead to death; in contrast, only 2% of drug-related suicide attempts lead to death. In states with such waiting periods, there are 51% fewer gun-related suicides, and 27% fewer suicides, overall. It also allows comprehensive background checks to take place in a more consistent, orderly, reliable fashion.
4. Ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons
In most mass shootings, AR-15s, or other military-style semi-automatic weapons, are the weapon of choice. They are designed to kill humans quickly, and can easily fire 30 to 60 shots per minute. Ideally, such a ban would occur at the federal level, as it did until the law expired in 2004. However, in light of the unique level of mass shootings in America, a growing number of states are taking the matter into their own hands while urging the federal government to act.
5. Banning Bump Stocks
Simply put, the purpose of bump stocks is to effectively turn semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons. If the federal government will not act to ban bump stocks, states (including New Hampshire) should.
6. Empower local communities to disallow firearms on school grounds.
In 2003, New Hampshire sought to ban local governments (including school boards) from determining whether or not firearms would be allowed on school grounds. Federal law already disallows students from carrying firearms on school property - but it leaves the decision about adults (educators, administrators, or visitors) to local governments. The 2003 law, however, took that decision out of the hands of local government, telling local government they must allow adults to carry firearms on school grounds. Instead, we should give local communities the power to make this important decision for their local schools.
7. Licensing for Concealed-Carry
The first bill that Governor Sununu signed in early 2017 repealed the permitting process through local police chiefs in order to carry a concealed gun. Although very few requests for the concealed-carry license were denied, it provided an important layer of background checks at the local level, and it should be restored. Governor Sununu said that police chiefs opposed the elimination of the permitting process because it reduced their authority to “arbitrarily” decline the license. This is false; during testimony on this bill in early 2017, police chiefs testified that it was rare for a license to be denied.