CONCORD, N.H. — The Republican-led New Hampshire House on Tuesday refused to allow Democrats to bring forward new gun control legislation spurred by the recent school shooting in Florida.
The House voted 178-144 Tuesday to prevent the introduction of a bill that would have prohibited those under age 21 from buying any type of gun and would have banned devices known as bump stocks that allow weapons to be fired at dramatically faster rates. The age limit provision would not have applied to active-duty military members or law enforcement officers.
House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff, of Concord, said as a longtime hunter, Army veteran, and former deputy U.S. marshal, he is not opposed to guns. He invoked a Revolutionary War major who reportedly said “Move aside, let New Hampshire lead the way” at the battle of Bunker Hill in urging his colleagues to allow the bill to move forward.
“I’m asking you to tell those across the country who are afraid to move forward, ‘Move aside, let New Hampshire lead the way,'” he said.
Rep. Lee Oxenham, D-Plainfield, said the bill includes “commonsense safety measures” that don’t infringe on Second Amendment rights.
“Our first responsibility as legislators must be to secure public safety and the common good, and preeminent in that goal is the protection of our school children and adolescents in crisis,” she said.
But House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, of Merrimack, said Democrats had ample time to file legislation before deadlines passed.
“When you suspend the rules, you need to do that based upon the right message, it needs to be well thought out,” he said. “There was ample time during the session to develop amendments to existing bills, and that didn’t happen. … Rules are rules.”
The Senate last month voted to further study a bill to ban bump stocks that was proposed in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October. Critics called the proposal broad and overreaching, and Democrats acknowledged it needs more work.