The Bulletin Board

Legislation on gun background checks approved by lawmakers

By: - June 24, 2021 4:06 pm
A man carries a holstered gun

The bill is an extension of the state’s 2017 “constitutional carry” law that allows anyone over 18 who is legally allowed to possess a firearm to carry one, whether concealed or out in the open. (Getty Images)

Over the objection of some gun-rights advocates, all background checks for gun purchases in New Hampshire would be done using the FBI database under legislation headed to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk.

The House and Senate have passed two bills that take background checks on handguns away from the state police and give that job to the FBI. Sheriffs conducting background checks in domestic violence and stalking cases would also have to use the FBI system. The FBI already handles checks on long guns. 

House Bill 334, which passed the Senate and House Thursday, and similar legislation in Senate Bill 141 have been championed by some Republicans and firearm groups who complained the state’s “Gun Line” is inefficient and slow. The bill’s opponents have said the state has improved its process and eliminated long waits. 

During Thursday’s House debate on HB 334, Rep. Mark McLean, a Manchester Republican, raised an additional objection. He said the state police flag some criminal charges that the FBI system doesn’t catch, including domestic violence orders and child protective orders. “First and foremost, is the negative impact this bill would have on the safety of domestic violence victims,” he said. The bill passed 212-159. 

SB 141 passed both chambers earlier this month. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.