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Injured Cops Take Gun Store Lawsuit to NH Supreme Court

Two Manchester police officers injured in a 2016 shooting are headed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court after a Superior Court Judge ruled against them in their lawsuit against a gun store and the state. 

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal from Manchester officers Ryan Hardy and Matthew O’Connor. They were shot by Ian Macpherson in May 2016. The officers are suing Chester Arms, where Macpherson bought the .40 caliber Smith and Wesson used in the shooting, and the New Hampshire Department of Safety, which provided the store the background check for the purchase.

Rockingham Superior Court Judge David Ruoff ruled in February that O’Conner and Hardy could not have prevailed if the case had gone to trial, because both the store and the Department of Safety followed current law. He dismissed the case on summary judgment.

The shooting happened when the officers tried to question Macpherson about a gas station armed robbery. Hardy was shot in the face and torso; O’Connor was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg, according to the Associated Press. Both officers have since returned to active duty.

The officers brought the lawsuit against the store and the New Hampshire Department of Safety, claiming the mentally ill MacPherson, who has a history of domestic violence, should never have been sold the gun in the first place.

MacPherson ended up pleading not guilty by reason of insanity in 2018 and was ordered to serve five years at the New Hampshire State Psychiatric Hospital.

MacPherson was initially unable to purchase the gun when he went to Chester Arms in March 2016. The store employee contacted the state’s Gun Line, run by the Department of Safety, for a background check on MacPherson. The Gun Line told the store that MacPherson’s status was “delayed” for further investigation, according to Ruoff’s order.

The Gun Line investigation found MacPherson has a history of domestic violence charges out of Merrimack, as well as court-ordered mental health evaluations. A relative told Merrimack police that MacPherson suffered from serious mental illness, and this was conveyed to the Gun Line.

While this information was given to the Department of Safety and the Gun Line, the state never told Chester Arms not to sell MacPherson the gun, according to court records.

The Gun Line investigation found MacPherson’s relationships to the victims in the domestic violence cases did meet the legal definition of a violation that would prevent him from owning a firearm. The Gun Line employees were also unable to verify his mental health condition, according to the order.

The store followed the law by waiting three business days to hear back from the Gun Line, according to Ruoff’s order. After not being contacted by the state, the store allowed MacPherson to buy the gun, according to Ruoff’s order. MacPherson’s Gun Line status continued to stay “delayed” for the weeks he owned the gun and did not change until after he shot the officers.

“The Gun Line continued the delay status on Mr. MacPherson’s transaction until the day he was indicted for the shooting, at which point the Gun Line changed the status to denied,” Ruoff wrote.

Barrington Voters Reject Firing Town Officials Over 2A Tactical

Hundreds of Barrington residents showed up Saturday for a special deliberative session designed to fire Town Administrator Conner MacIver and Town Treasurer Peter Royce and instead opted to support the two officials. 

The man behind the deliberative session, owner of 2A Tactical Rob Russell, wanted to get rid of MacIver and Royce, saying Royce improperly used his town potion to target his business with MacIver’s knowledge.

Barrington uses a two-step process for town meetings. The first is a deliberative session in which the articles are debated and can be changed. It is followed by a ballot vote. Russell spent months gathering signatures for a special town meeting with a single warrant article, firing MacIver and Royce.

At Saturday’s deliberative session, Select Board member Joyce Cappiello successfully pulled a 180 on Russell, amending the article to support the two town employees instead of removing them. The re-worded article now reads, “To see if the town will vote to encourage the select board to continue the employment of Conner MacIver and Peter Royce in their current positions with the town of Barrington and to recognize the many contributions the two have made to the town throughout their tenures.”

It was a major reversal just months after the town attorney reprimanded Royce for improperly using his town email to target the local small business and its owner.

Russell said Sunday he was gratified that so many voters showed up to hear out his arguments, even if he didn’t get his desired result.

“Yes, having my warrant article re-written was disheartening. But it’s part of the process,” Russell said. “And seeing 250 people show up for a deliberative session that I am told normally has less than 50 people was inspiring.”

Russell still plans to run for a seat on the select board in the spring.

Russell is a retired military veteran who runs 2A Tactical out of his Tolend Road home. He started the effort to oust MacIver and Royce after discovering Royce was orchestrating a campaign to shut down his business.

Russell originally opened it as a home business.  But as it took off, so did the traffic in his residential neighborhood, and so did the complaints. 

Russell soon found himself embroiled in a lawsuit as the town alleged zoning ordinance violations. However, after Russell prevailed during two zoning board of adjustment hearings, the town dropped the lawsuit last spring.

Royce is the part-time town treasurer and lives near 2A Tactical. Royce used his position and knowledge of town operations to actively lobby against Russell’s business, according to documents Russell uncovered. At one point, Royce used his town email to communicate with MacIver about the case. After prodding, MacIver told Royce that people could be encouraged to file complaints against Russell if they have concerns.

Royce allegedly organized people throughout the neighborhood to file complaints against Russell’s business, landing Russell before the ZBA, the select board, and the courts.

According to a letter from the town’s law firm to MacIver, Royce’s use of his official town email crossed the line.

“Mr. Royce is the town’s appointed treasurer. Of course, he does not lose his rights as a citizen by assuming such a position. He may contact code enforcement with concerns just as any other citizen may, and code enforcement treats his complaints no differently than those of other citizens. I agree that Mr. Royce should not be using his town email for any communications in his personal capacity, and he has been so counseled,” wrote attorney Laura Spector-Morgan to town officials.

Select Board Chair Dan Mannschreck told NHJournal that Royce got a talking to about his improper use of town email. Royce is paid about $7,000 a year for his job. MacIver was paid more than $78,000 last year.

Gun Shop Owner Targeted by Barrington Town Officials Has Signatures to Force Vote

The business owner behind a popular Barrington gun shop has the signatures necessary to go after the town officials who he claims targeted his livelihood. 

“They have to call the meeting now,” said Rob Russell.

He isn’t stopping with a special Town Meeting to fire the town administrator and town treasurer. Russell now wants a seat on the town’s select board. He plans to run for one of the seats up at the March Town Meeting. 

“I don’t even want to run for selectman, I don’t have the time. But I feel a sense of duty,” Russell said. “These selectmen just don’t care about the people.”

Russell, a retired military veteran who runs 2A Tactical out of his Tolend Road home, recently submitted petitions with the signatures of 178 registered voters, enough to trigger the special Town Meeting he wants to be called to have Town Administrator Conner MacIver and Town Treasurer Peter Royce fired.

Royce was caught using his town office to orchestrate a campaign against Russell’s business, according to documents compiled by Russell.

Russell’s 2A Tactical gunsmithing shop has been the center of controversy for years in Barrington. He originally opened it as a home business, but as the business took off so did the traffic in his residential neighborhood.

Russell soon found himself embroiled in a lawsuit as the town alleged zoning ordinance violations. However, after Russell prevailed during two zoning board of adjustment hearings, the town dropped the lawsuit this spring.

Select Board Chair Dan Mannschreck, said this week that once all the signatures are verified the board will put scheduling the meeting on its next agenda. 

“We hope to do it as soon as possible,” Mannschreck said.

Russell is presenting a single warrant article for the meeting, one that essentially asks voters to either fire or keep MacIver and Royce. However, since Barrington is an SB 2 town, voters will first be given the opportunity to have a deliberative session to discuss the warrant article, and offer any changes, before the official ballot vote Mannschreck said.

Russell is worried the deliberative session will be stacked with those opposed to firing Royce and MacIver and that his warrant article will get watered down or changed. 

Russell is a military veteran and a former police officer. His shop is staffed by other veterans and the business has built up a community of loyal customers. They come to his store on the residential Tolend Road for classes as well as events.

What is unusual about Russell’s case, according to documents shared with NH Journal, is that Royce, the part-time town treasurer, used his position and knowledge of town operations to actively lobby against Russell’s business. At one point, Royce used his town email to communicate with MacIver about the case. After prodding, MacIver told Royce that people were encouraged to file complaints against Russell if they have concerns.

Royce allegedly organized people throughout the neighborhood to file complaints against Russell’s business, landing Russell before the ZBA, the select board, and the courts.

According to a letter from the town’s law firm to MacIver, Royce’s use of his official town email crossed the line.

“Mr. Royce is the town’s appointed treasurer. Of course, he does not lose his rights as a citizen by assuming such a position. He may contact code enforcement with concerns just as any other citizen may, and code enforcement treats his complaints no differently than those from other citizens. I agree that Mr. Royce should not be using his town email for any communications in his personal capacity, and he has been so counseled,” wrote attorney Laura Spector-Morgan to town officials.

MacIver did not respond to a request for comment. Previously he said Royce was talked to about his email use, but it was not clear if there were any other consequences. Except, perhaps, Russell’s special Town Meeting.

Barrington Gun Store Owner Gathering Signatures to Get Town Officials Fired

Robert Russell, the Barrington gunsmith whose business survived being targeted by a town official, wants payback. 

Russell kicked off a petition drive this week to hold a special town meeting to fire Town Administrator Conner MacIver and Town Treasurer Peter Royce.

“They don’t want me to do this, but that just encourages me even more,” Russell said.

Russell also filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office alleging 91-A (Right to Know) violations, as well as violations of ethics rules and conflict of interest laws. Russell said he was forced into the actions after years of what he called unfair treatment by the town.

“I don’t hide behind anything,” Russell said.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.

Russell’s 2A Tactical gunsmithing shop has been a target of town government for years. Russell originally opened it as a home business, and as it grew, so did the traffic in his residential neighborhood.

Russell soon found himself embroiled in a lawsuit as the town alleged zoning ordinance violations. However, after Russell prevailed during two zoning board of adjustment hearings, the town dropped the lawsuit this spring.

Dan Mannschreck, chairman of the select board, said he has not seen the special town meeting petition yet, but added the town is ready to hold the meeting once Russell gets at least 50 signatures from registered town voters.

“We didn’t budget for it, but that’s alright we can pay,” Mannschreck said.

While Russell claimed he was singled out because of the nature of his business, Mannschreck said that was not the case. What Russell went through is simply Barrington’s zoning enforcement process, he said.

“This is the way we do it. We don’t do it very often, and most people comply,” Mannschreck said.

Russell is a military veteran and a former police officer. His shop is staffed by other veterans and the business has a community of loyal customers. Customers come to his store on the residential Tolend Road for classes as well as events.

What is unusual about Russell’s case, according to documents shared with NHJournal, is that Royce, the part-time town treasurer, used his position and knowledge of town operations to actively lobby against Russell’s business. At one point, Royce used his town email to communicate with MacIver about the matter. MacIver told Royce people were encouraged to file complaints against Russell if they have concerns, according to the emails.

According to a letter from the town’s law firm to McIver, Royce’s use of his official town email crossed a line.

“Mr. Royce is the town’s appointed treasurer. Of course, he does not lose his rights as a citizen by assuming such a position. He may contact code enforcement with concerns just as any other citizen may, and code enforcement treats his complaints no differently than those of other citizens. I agree that Mr. Royce should not be using his town email for any communications in his personal capacity, and he has been so counseled,” wrote attorney Laura Spector-Morgan to town officials.

MacIver said last week Royce was talked to about his email use, but it is not clear if there are any other serious consequences. Royce does not manage the town’s day-to-day finances.

Russell plans to get all the signatures by the end of the month. He will then bring them to the selectmen. Mannschreck said once the signatures are verified by the town clerk, it will take anywhere from six to eight weeks to organize the special town meeting. The cost could run anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000, Mannschreck said.

“They’ve cost my business potentially a couple of million dollars,” Russell said.

The biggest question about the special town meeting, according to both Russell and Mannschreck, is what it will mean. Mannschreck maintains that any vote at the special town meeting to fire MacIver and Royce won’t mean they have to start packing boxes.

“The vote is advisory. I’ve run that through the attorney several times,” Mannschreck said.

Russell said he is not convinced the special town meeting vote can’t compel the town to fire the two officials.

“There’s a lot of disinformation out there,” Russell said.

Mannschreck is hopeful the town and Russell can walk away from the dispute, especially since the lawsuit has been dropped.

“I think it’s gotten difficult. I don’t like it at all,” Mannschreck said. “I like Rob, but it’s getting difficult.”

Russell is planning to move the business out of his home and into a building in a commercial part of town.

Barrington Town Official Abused Position In Bid to Shut Down Gun Biz

A Barrington town official who used his position to lobby against a local gun business is escaping consequences after months of legal wrangling and a failed lawsuit.

Town Treasurer Peter Royce used his official town email and knowledge of town procedure during his campaign to shut down 2A Tactical, a gunsmithing business run out of the Tolend Road home of Robert Russell, a veteran and former Dover police officer.

Russell has been fighting to keep his business open for more than a year, all the while under fire from Royce. The treasurer’s complaints, and the complaints he orchestrated from Russell’s neighbors, resulted in a town lawsuit against Russell alleging zoning ordinance violations. After two Zoning Board of Appeals hearings found no violations, the town agreed to drop the lawsuit this spring.

“No apology, no explanation,” Russell said. “There should never have been a lawsuit to begin with.”

Royce did not respond to an email and phone message seeking comment. He is an appointed town treasurer and is paid a $7,000 a year stipend for what are essentially part-time duties. The day-to-day financial work for the town is done by full-time staff. 

“I am extremely frustrated that 2A Tactical has qualified as a home business,” Royce wrote in one email, using his official town account, to other town officials. “I realize that this business has contributed to the police department, but I hope we can realistically examine what the situation is on Tolend Road. I believe things are pretty horrible.”

According to a letter from the town’s law firm, Royce’s use of his official town email crossed the line.

“Mr. Royce is the town’s appointed treasurer. Of course, he does not lose his rights as a citizen by assuming such a position. He may contact code enforcement with concerns just as any other citizen may, and code enforcement treats his complaints no differently than those from other citizens. I agree that Mr. Royce should not be using his town email for any communications in his personal capacity, and he has been so counseled,” wrote attorney Laura Spector-Morgan to town officials.

Town Administrator Conner MacIver said Royce was talked to about his email use, but it is not clear if there are any other consequences.

“He was counseled on the use of town email,” MacIver said.

Royce used his email to communicate with MacIver about the case. After prodding, MacIver at one point told Royce that people should file complaints against Russell if they have concerns.

MacIver explained Wednesday that Barrington does not actively enforce zoning violations, and instead relies on people to file complaints. According to documents, Royce sent emails to Tolend Road residents soliciting complaints against Russell. 

Select Board Chair Dan Mannschreck said no one in town is biased against Russell and his business. Many people in town, and in town government, are gun owners themselves.

“That’s not an issue as far as the town is concerned,” Mannschreck said.

Mannschreck and MacIver said the town followed the routine procedure once complaints about 2A Tactical started coming in. Russell’s original plan for a small home business blossomed into a fairly successful operation, and Royce was upset with the number of customers in the neighborhood. 

“The only goal was to put us out of business,” Russell said.

The town’s building inspector and MacIver met with Russell. He was initially given six months to find a new location for the business, ideally in a commercial zone. When that proved difficult and Russell sought an extension, the town filed the lawsuit in August of last year, according to records reviewed by NH Journal. 

Rusell took his case to the town’s ZBA, which found in his favor in October. Following an appeal, also in his favor, the town decided to drop the lawsuit this year. In the wake of that, Russell has accused town leaders of unethical behavior. Mannshreck acknowledged selectmen reviewed the town’s actions in this case, but he declined to discuss the findings. 

The board held a non-public session to discuss the matter. The minutes remain sealed. No town employee has been terminated as a result of that review, he said. Royce has been dealt with appropriately for the lobbying, according to Mannschreck.

“We told (Royce) that was inappropriate and he needed to stop that,” Mannshreck said. “Being counseled by the town administration and town attorney is a fairly serious action.”

Judge Rejects Lawsuit Blaming Derry Gun Store For Cop Shooting

Superior Court Judge David Ruoff ruled against two Manchester police officers injured in a 2016 shooting in a lawsuit the officers brought against a Derry gun store.

“This is absolutely a great day for gun rights in New Hampshire,” said Sean List, the attorney for Chester Arms in Derry.

Manchester officers Ryan Hardy and Matthew O’Connor were reportedly shot by Ian Macpherson in May 2016 when they tried to question him about a gas station armed robbery. Hardy was shot in the face and torso; O’Connor was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg, according to the Associated Press. Both officers have since returned to active duty.

The officers brought a lawsuit against Chester Arms, the store where MacPherson bought his .40 caliber Smith and Wesson. They also sued the New Hampshire Department of Safety, claiming that the mentally ill MacPherson, who has a history of domestic violence, should never have been sold the gun in the first place.

Ruoff ruled in a summary judgment order that O’Connor and Hardy would not have prevailed if the case had gone to trial because both the store and the Department of Safety followed current law. List said it is possible the pair will appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, but he’s unconcerned about the prospect.

“We feel very confident that if it is appealed, the Supreme Court will find judge Ruoff’s order is correct,” List said.

Stephen Gutowski, editor of The Reload, the nation’s leading journal on gun issues, tells NHJournal he sees the Chester Arms case in a larger, national context.

“This case is part of a broader decades-long strategy by gun-control advocates to hold gun makers and retailers liable for gun crimes they aren’t directly implicated in. It’s not surprising they fell short here. However, the loss is unlikely to deter advocates from pursuing more cases like this moving forward,” Gutowski said.

Representatives for the Manchester Police Department declined to comment, and Mayor Joyce Craig’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Mark Morrissette, the attorney representing O’Conner and Hardy, told NHPR he wanted the case to force New Hampshire to start following federal law on background checks.

MacPherson ended up pleading not guilty by reason of insanity in 2018. He was ordered to serve five years in the New Hampshire State Psychiatric Hospital.

MacPherson was initially unable to purchase the gun when he went to Chester Arms in March 2016. The store employee contacted the state’s “gun check line,” run by the Department of Safety, for a background check on him. The gun line told the store that MacPherson’s status was “delayed” for further investigation, according to Ruoff’s order.

The gun line investigation found MacPherson’s domestic violence cases did not trigger any legal prohibition that would prevent him from owning a firearm. The gun line employees were also unable to verify his mental health condition, according to the order.

While that information was given to the Department of Safety and the Gun Line, the state never told Chester Arms not to sell MacPherson the gun.

The gun line investigation found the relationships to the victims in MacPherson’s domestic violence cases, those convictions did meet the legal definition of a violation that would prevent him from owning a firearm. The gun line employees were also unable to verify his mental health condition, according to the order.

The store followed the law by waiting three business days to hear back from the gun line. After not being contacted by the state, the store allowed MacPherson to buy the gun, according to Ruoff’s order. MacPherson’s gun line status continued to stay “delayed” for the weeks he owned the gun and did not change until after he shot the officers.

“The gun line continued the delay status on Mr. MacPherson’s transaction until the day he was indicted for the shooting, at which point the gun line changed the status to denied,” Ruoff wrote. 

List said gun dealers have immunity when they sell guns so long as they do not commit felonies during the course of an individual gun sale. 

Morrissette told NHPR that even though the store and the Department of Safety followed the rules, the laws should not allow someone like MacPherson to purchase a gun. The lawsuit wanted to have the laws protecting dealers ruled unconstitutional.

“It is not an effort to undermine the Second Amendment. There are laws in place that limit the purchase or possession of weapons, or at least to have someone look at this in a deliberate fashion to make sure that people are not unreasonably harmed,” Morrissette said. “The laws were there. The guidelines were there and they should be looked at. I think at the end of the day, in this case, Mr. MacPherson was a tormented person without overstating it in any way. And to believe that he was rightly given a weapon just runs counter to common sense and it runs counter to the law.”

Ruoff found that the laws protecting Chester Arms serve to protect the right to bear arms. 

NH Democrats Unified in Vote to Ban Guns from House Chamber

On their first day in session, New Hampshire House Democrats voted in lockstep to ban members from bringing “deadly weapons”–aka “firearms”– into the House chamber, overturning a pro-gun policy passed by a GOP majority four years ago. While pro-2A protesters filled the gallery and Republicans like Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry) gave fiery speeches from the floor, Democrats said little, often declining to even answer questions.  Instead, they let their votes do the talking.

Democrats voted 220 to 163 for the gun ban, with the support of virtually every Democrat in attendance. (The House has a 233/167 split.)   An earlier motion to table the rule change failed by a nearly-identical margin, 221-164, with just three Democrats (Jeff Goley, Mark King and Peter Leishman) voting with the GOP to set the measure aside.

“This body has committed a grievous error that violates the constitutional rights of members of this historic body,” House Minority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) said from the floor.

“This is simply a matter of public safety,” House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) said in a statement after the vote. “Allowing lawmakers and members of the public to bring their guns to the State House clearing increases the potential for an avertable tragic event. The amendment passed today restores common sense to our practices in the legislature.”

Perhaps more telling was this tweet from NH Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley several hours before the vote was even taken:

The outcome of the vote was hardly a surprise, but Buckley’s confidence is worth noting.  Holding virtually the entire caucus on an issue like gun rights–which are relatively popular in some of the traditionally-GOP seats Democrats picked up in November’s blue wave–is a sign of party unity that should concern the NHGOP.   Particularly given their own failure to unify behind several of Gov. Chris Sununu’s key issues when they had the majority last year, like fighting internet sales taxes and vetoing subsidies to biomass.

“But remember, Republicans were united today, too,” Stephen Stepanek told NHJournal after the vote. “We stuck together as a block, something we’ve got to continue to do in 2019.”  Stepanek, who is the front-runner to become the next chairman of the NHGOP, acknowledges that Republicans didn’t come through for Gov. Sununu and their own party last year.

“But I believe Republican legislators will stick together this session,” Stepanek said. “They have to. We need to stay together so voters can see the differences between Republicans and Democrats, so they can see that Democrats are chipping away at our basic rights, like the right to keep and bear arms.” Stepanek, a former House member himselfe, said that if elected chairman, he would use his position to promote party unity among the notoriously unruly members of the House GOP.

“If Republicans stick together, the Democrats will give us issues to run on –and win back the legislature with–in 2020,” Stepanek said. “Democrats are going to do stupid things.  They can’t help themselves.”

But is keeping legislators from carrying guns on the House floor really one of those “stupid things?” Do New Hampshire voters, who tell pollsters they support gun control measures like banning so-called “assault weapons” and limiting the size of gun magazines, really care about the right to legislate while armed?

“Anyone who says ‘I’m pro-Second-Amendment, but…’ isn’t really pro-2A,” a protester named Scott told NHJournal outside the House chamber. He declined to give his last name, was wearing a handgun on his belt a waved a sign reading “Ban Idiots, Not Guns.”

According to Joe Sweeney, spokesperson for the NHGOP, the party highlighted Wednesday’s vote to alert gun-rights advocates about the Democrats’ larger anti-gun agenda for the coming session.

“It’s a slippery slope,” he told NHJournal. “If you have members who will vote to take away rights from their fellow members of the House, who else will they vote to take away rights from? Today is mobilizing our people to be ready to fight in a month or so when more anti-gun bills come out.”

“This is the first day of a long two years,” Sweeney said.

NH Dems Say Lack of Gun Ban at State House Is Scaring Away School Children

As promised, newly-elected Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff began the process of banning guns from the House chamber Wednesday morning with a 6-4 vote by the Rules Committee to amend house rules to prohibit the carrying of firearms in Representatives’ Hall.  And, as is often the case, Democrats say they’re doing it “for the children.”

While he acknowledged the existing policy of allowing armed citizens and legislators into the House chamber has never created a problem, Shurtleff says he’s concerned about school kids.   “In addition to being the place we make laws, it’s also a classroom. We have fourth graders coming in to view us in session and I think like any classroom we don’t want firearms present,” Shurtleff said.

Democratic State Rep. Lucy Weber took the argument a step farther during the Rules Committee debate. “There has been a chilling effect on willingness of schools to send their kids here,” Rep. Weber claimed.

Rep. Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack), leader of the GOP House minority, pushed back against that claim, saying it is “unfair and inaccurate to say that fourth graders have been in any way impacted by this. I have not seen any school grade that has felt inhibited about coming for a school tour,” the Union-Leader reports.

Hinch also objected to the ban in general, saying in a statement that “by removing this basic right, we are effectively making the chamber a gun-free zone and less safe environment for our colleagues.”

Since a GOP-controlled House first revoked the ban in 2011, House rules on the matter have changed along with changes in party control of the legislature.   In addition to turning the House chamber into a gun-free zone, Shurtleff told NHPR that, if the gun ban went into effect, he would ask the Department of Safety to increase the State Police presence at House Chamber.

The response to the committee vote from Republicans and Second Amendment supporters was immediate.  “The ink is barely dry on their oaths of office and they’re already trampling the constitution,” former state representative JR Hoell of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition told NHJournal.

“This is the Democrats’ first shot fired in their battle against the Second Amendment. The most important aspect of this vote is that they are telling us they don’t trust their fellow legislators to have firearms. If that’s how they feel about their fellow politicians, how do you think they feel about the rest of us,” Hoell asked. “Their next step is to ban [the rights of] citizens.”

And a tweet from the NHGOP noted the irony of Speaker Shurteff taking away guns from law-abiding citizens then asking for more police protection: “Think about this logically. The @NHDems want extra protection when they ban guns around them, conceding they keep people safe. Is Speaker Shurtleff going to ask for extra protection when he walks around town, too?”

Former Speaker Bill O’Brien, who led the GOP’s first successful effort to repeal the ban, told NHJournal that suggestions about children being too scared to come to the state house were laughable.  “The number of children visiting the State House hasn’t changed at all over the years, with or without the ban.  What we have here is an exercise in virtue signaling,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien agrees with his fellow Republicans who are concerned about anti-Second Amendment activism from the new Democratic majority in Concord. “Democratic legislators will be playing to their base, not serving the people of New Hampshire,” he told NHJournal.  “They’ve got to show [anti-gun billionaires] Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer that all the money they sent up here wasn’t wasted.”

“My friends in the pro-2A [Second Amendment] community are telling me that, from their perspective, nothing the Democrats might try next would surprise them.”

New Hampshire Gun Stores See Sales Rise On Vermont Border

When Republican Governor Phil Scott–who ran as an opponent of expanded gun laws–recently signed a series of gun restrictions into law, he was greeted with cries of “Traitor” from Second Amendment supporters in Vermont. But on the other side of the border, he may hear a different cry:

“Cha-CHING!”

According to media reports, New Hampshire gun stores in communities along the Vermont border are already seeing an uptick in sales–and are anticipating even more.

“We always get a fair amount of business from Vermont, but there has been a little bit of an uptick the last few weeks,” Dick Basnar of Corey’s Sports Shop in Littleton told Caldonian Record.

Leila Welch, owner of Welch’s Gun and Gift in Lebanon, NH is having a similar experience. “I don’t have many AR’s,” she told the NHJournal, “but I’ve had some magazines [people from New Hampshire] are buying.”

Restrictions on magazines (no more than 10 rounds for rifles, 15 rounds for handguns) are a key part of the new laws that will be taking full effect in Vermont as of October 1st. The law also expands background checks and prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying guns unless they take a government-approved training course.

 

Gov. Scott’s flip-flop on gun rights has inspired both a surge of anger–and possibly a surge in New Hampshire gun sales.  Meanwhile, Vermont’s gun rights activists insist these new laws are solving a “problem” that doesn’t exist.

“Our average murder rate by firearms is four a year, out of a population of 625, 000,” notes Eddie Cutler of Gun Owners of Vermont, a pro-Second-Amendment organization that’s organized opposition to these laws. “Once Gov. Scott, in his infinite wisdom, decided to [find] an excuse to pass gun control, he opened the flood gates and next thing we knew we were up to our armpits in gun control laws.”

And possibly a flood of gun sales in the Granite State beginning this fall.

NH Dem: Repealing Second Amendment “A Good Discussion To Have”

Is it time to repeal the Second Amendment?  Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed for the New York Times urging just that, and at least one New Hampshire Democrat thinks it’s worth considering.

Rep. Katherine Rogers (D-Merrimack) has long been active in the New Hampshire state house pushing gun control measures (she prefers the phrase “gun violence prevention”) and in an interview with the NH Journal, she said “it’s an interesting discussion that we should have.”

“I think that the United States Constitution is a living, breathing document and it’s always time to revisit and to look at our Constitution,” Rep. Rogers said.

“So I think having this discussions is good, and maybe the op-ed by Justice Stevens leads to a lot of interesting discussion. That’s a good thing. I don’t know if I’m ready to say let’s get rid of the Second Amendment, but I think it’s an interesting discussion for everybody to have,” Rogers said.

Jonathan Weinberg, one of the student leaders of the #MarchForOurLives rallies in New Hampshire singled out Rep. Rogers, along with state senator Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover), for supporting students’ efforts on gun control. Last week, students from the group presented a petition signed by several hundred area students to Gov. Sununu and the state senate urging the legislature to change state law and allow local school districts to declare their schools gun-free zones. The measure failed 14-9.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire GOP is following the lead of President Trump, seizing on the Stevens op-ed to urge gun-rights supporters to get involved in the 2018 elections.  Just hours after President Trump tweeted about Justice Stevens’ call for repeal (“NO WAY! We need more Republicans in 2018 ad must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!”) the NHGOP posted “StopTheGunGrab.com,” featuring a video by party chairwoman Jeanie Forrester. In the video, she warns New Hampshire residents that “The Left is openly advocating the repeal of the Second Amendment…It’s unconscionable.” (See full video below)

Forrester demands elected Democrats like Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Annie Kuster “must denounce this un-American threat to our liberties.”

For their part, Democrats don’t seem worried. Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley responded to the video by mocking the GOP.

Is welcoming a conversation about repealing the Second Amendment and mocking gun-owners concerns a sign that the New Hampshire Democratic Party is moving left on the gun issue, along with their national party?  Do they believe that gun control could be a winning issue in the Granite State?

“Oh, please,” says Republican Bill O’Brien, former Speaker of the NH House, “throw us in that briar patch!” O’Brien believes that even among Democratic voters, support for gun rights in New Hampshire is strong.

“We’re not afraid of guns here,” O’Brien to the NHJournal. “I don’t know who [the Democrats] are talking to with these messages—maybe the academic crowd, college students? Let them run on gun control and see how most voters react.”