On Jan. 2, the members elected to serve as state representatives reviewed the rules governing the operations of the New Hampshire House. The most contentious issue was whether loaded weapons should be allowed in the People’s House, or whether safety and other concerns should take precedent.
I was raised in the farmlands of Lancaster, N.H., and remember my dad bringing home his deer — and the times he didn’t bother. I grew up seeing the annual crop of out-of-state license plates and knowing who in town served as guides for the folks in those cars. So, the long-standing tradition of hunting is familiar and comfortable. There was no gunfire near homes, no gunfire after nightfall, no shots disrupting family outings. There were miles of wild space to go around.
The issue of loaded weapons in the Statehouse is a different matter. This is not about hunting, or the simple right to bear arms.
This issue centers on whether you think more loaded weapons means more safety. This is a legitimate debate, as both sides have something to recommend their view. I believe that it was important for me to vote as I had been directly asked by my voters.
Prior to the election, the issue of removing guns from the Statehouse was a frequently mentioned topic of concern. Following my election, this issue was stressed by almost everyone who approached me.
Parents and teachers who were accustomed to taking children on tours were disturbed at the thought of the presence of firearms in what had been, in their lifetimes, a safe zone. Other folks just didn’t think that loaded guns have a place in the Statehouse.
To be clear, Rule 63 as passed by the Legislature in the last biennium, allows legislators and any other person to carry loaded, concealed weapons. So, while much of the testimony on Wednesday heralded the right of legislators to bear firearms, the rule being debating allowed any individual to bring loaded weapons into the state house.