New Hampshire Democrats responded to Monday’s mass shooting at a Christian school in Tennessee by attacking Gov. Chris Sununu’s scheduled appearance at an NRA event.
A 28-year-old woman who identified as a male shot her way into The Covenant School in Nashville and gunned down six people, three of them children. She was shot and killed by police, leaving behind a manifesto and reigniting the debate over gun bans and the Second Amendment.
President Joe Biden said Monday the crime was yet another reason for Congress to pass a so-called “assault weapon ban,” outlawing the sale of certain popular semi-automatic guns like the AR-15 in the U.S. All four members of the New Hampshire federal delegation also support a national gun ban.
Shaheen blamed “the gun lobby” for “preventing meaningful action to stop mass shootings & shackles Congress from acting. Our kids, their families & our country deserve better. This has to stop,” she tweeted.
Republicans respond Shaheen was part of a massive Democratic majority in Congress during the Obama administration, and her party declined to act.
Meanwhile, local Democrats are focusing their criticism on Sununu, who ordered flags on all public buildings and grounds in the state to fly at half-staff. Sununu is scheduled to appear at an April 14 National Rifle Association event in Indianapolis. Former President Trump and Vice President Pence are also scheduled to appear at that event.
New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley released a statement calling on Sununu to cancel his appearance.
“Chris Sununu has shown time and time again that he values his NRA rating more than the safety of Granite Staters. In light of yet another devastating and preventable tragedy where innocent lives were stolen by senseless gun violence, it is incomprehensible that Sununu would even consider speaking at this NRA event.
“Instead of using this forum as an opportunity to build his national profile and brag about how he gutted gun safety in New Hampshire, I am calling on the governor to cancel his appearance at this event immediately,” Buckley said.
Sununu declined to respond to repeated requests for comment.
While Sununu is a pro-choice Republican often labeled as a centrist, he has a strong record supporting the Second Amendment. The first bill he signed into law as governor was constitutional carry, allowing lawful gun owners to carry their weapons without an additional permit. He also signed a law preventing the use of any state or local resources “to enforce, administer, or cooperate with any law, act, rule, order, or regulation” on firearms enacted by the federal government.
And the Sununu administration joined a national effort organized by GOP attorneys general pushing back on efforts by credit card companies to create a de facto list of gun purchases.
New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of gun ownership and lowest levels of violent crime in the country, making the politics of gun bans problematic for Democrats. In addition to the popularity of gun ownership, financial considerations are also at play.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Granite State ranks first in the nation in terms of total gun manufacturing jobs and economic output per capita.
In 2019, New Hampshire accounted for producing the most firearm in any state, with 1.2 million guns. New Hampshire manufactured the most rifles (328,000), many of which would be banned by the Democrat-backed proposal.