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Democrats move toward reinstating ban on guns in House chamber, nearby areas

  • Representative Al Baldasaro, a Republican of Londonderry, takes a photo with his cellphone while listening as the House Rules Committee voted to recommend that the full House ban guns in the House chamber, the gallery, and the adjacent areas. They also recommended eliminating two committees during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, December 20, 2012, <br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Representative Al Baldasaro, a Republican of Londonderry, takes a photo with his cellphone while listening as the House Rules Committee voted to recommend that the full House ban guns in the House chamber, the gallery, and the adjacent areas. They also recommended eliminating two committees during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, December 20, 2012,

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Rep. Pam Tucker, R-Greenland, raises her hand to speak in opposition of banning guns in the State House. The House Rules Committee voted to recommend that the full House ban guns in the House chamber, the gallery, and the adjacent areas. They also recommended eliminating two committees during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, December 20, 2012, <br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

    Rep. Pam Tucker, R-Greenland, raises her hand to speak in opposition of banning guns in the State House. The House Rules Committee voted to recommend that the full House ban guns in the House chamber, the gallery, and the adjacent areas. They also recommended eliminating two committees during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, December 20, 2012,

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Representative Al Baldasaro, a Republican of Londonderry, takes a photo with his cellphone while listening as the House Rules Committee voted to recommend that the full House ban guns in the House chamber, the gallery, and the adjacent areas. They also recommended eliminating two committees during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, December 20, 2012, <br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)
  • Rep. Pam Tucker, R-Greenland, raises her hand to speak in opposition of banning guns in the State House. The House Rules Committee voted to recommend that the full House ban guns in the House chamber, the gallery, and the adjacent areas. They also recommended eliminating two committees during a meeting on Thursday afternoon, December 20, 2012, <br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

Democrats took a step yesterday toward banning guns from the House floor, gallery and adjacent areas, over protests from Republicans who said barring weapons from the chamber would leave lawmakers and visitors to the State House less safe.

“I’m a gun owner. I have a permit to carry,” said Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat. “But I do not believe that it is appropriate for people to be in the gallery with weapons and fourth-grade students.”

The House Rules Committee’s four Republicans voted against the recommendation to bar guns, which was supported yesterday by the committee’s six Democrats, including Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff of Penacook. Outside the meeting, Rep. JR Hoell, a Dunbarton Republican who isn’t on the rules panel, promised a fight when the full House meets Jan. 2 to consider the change.

Hoell said the gun ban would turn the House into a “killing zone,” adding, “The killings are happening in the places where there’s gun-free zones. It’s time to let people protect themselves and protect others.”

After Republicans won control of the House and Senate in the 2010 election, they lifted a ban on carrying weapons at the State House and Legislative Office Building. That policy hasn’t changed.

But Democrats last month won a majority in the House and are looking to reinstate that chamber’s longtime gun ban; the House rules were changed in 2011 to allow the carrying of concealed weapons in the House chamber, cloakrooms, anterooms and adjacent areas.

In addition to barring guns from the chamber and those nearby areas, Democrats yesterday also proposed striking language that says people are allowed to engage in any “legally permitted exercise of self-defense or defense of others.” But on a 10-0 vote, the rules committee agreed to retain that clause.

“I interpret that to mean that even if someone attacks me, I can’t even defend myself with my fists,” Minority Leader Gene Chandler of Bartlett said of deleting the language.

But there was no such agreement on the gun ban, and panel Republicans were critical of the proposed change.

Hudson Rep. Shawn Jasper said allowing representatives to carry concealed weapons is a deterrent to would-be attackers.

“I think we preclude this from happening when people know we are not just sitting ducks on the floor of the House,” he said.

Greenland Rep. Pam Tucker, who was deputy speaker during the last term, said barring guns from the House would violate the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and was a “feel-good bill” that can’t be enforced.

“I don’t think we want to create another gun-free zone where violent crimes occur and are committed,” she said. “Do we really want another defenseless zone created, and that being the State House, of all places?”

But Rep. Dan Eaton, a Stoddard Democrat, said armed representatives on the floor wouldn’t be in a position to stop a gunman in the gallery. Eaton is a firearms instructor and former town police chief.

“If you were in the House chamber trying to shoot at the gallery, and you have dead-on sights, . . . the angle and degree of firing changes completely, and you can turn the gallery into a bloodbath and never affect the person that you’re trying to get at,” he said.

Several dozen people turned out for yesterday’s meeting but the committee didn’t take any public testimony, which Shurtleff said was in line with its past practice.

Hoell said he and other Republicans would fight the rule change when the full House meets next month, and some Democrats could break ranks to oppose it. But Rep. Daniel Itse, a Fremont Republican, told reporters he believes it will largely be a party-line vote.

There are 219 Democrats and 179 Republicans in the House, with two seats vacant.

Yesterday’s vote came six days after a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Richardson said the proposed rules change has been in the works for a while and isn’t a response to the Connecticut massacre.

But Hoell said the Democrats are “reacting in emotion,” which he said makes for bad policy.

“They’re concerned for the kids. You’re right, the kids are important,” he said. “The teachers should be carrying, because had the teachers been carrying in Connecticut, it would have been a different story.”

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Seems to me it is not politicians we have to worry about shooting each other, it is young men. That has been the history of gun violence with the exception of fired employees. Why do you suppose these young men go on a rampage at schools, and movie theaters? They go after the most vulnerable that will give them the least resistance. They are cowards. Gun Free zones are an invitation for sitting ducks in my opinion. Not about guns folks, it is about angry, mentally ill young men.

It is good to see the democrats are focused on jobs: NOT!

Have you ever heard of the Rules Committee taking up policy legislation? In your opinion, what House rules changes, exactly, might encourage job growth?

Now, now. Van is just prematurely enjoying being in the minority.

Doc, Not likely going to stay on this website long. my subscription is about to run out soon and I don't plan on spending another dime on the Monitor.

Democrats one track mind raising taxes, and forcing their social issues on us. Show me an example in recent history where that isn't the case. You can't.

Just what I need, a bunch of old, myopic, Conservatives trying to protect me.

Hmmmmm . . . no where in this article did I read about the new metal detectors and armed guards that they will be installing in the State House. If they are going to reinstate the gun ban it should be along with the introduction of metal detectors that people must pass through upon entering the State House. But alas . . . that would cost money. And neither party is concerned with safety. Just tossing guns back and forth like a political football.

Knowing what the chamber looks like, I'd say anyone in the gallery who wanted to could take out quite a number of those on the floor before anyone on the floor could realize what was happened. Better to leave all the weapons at the door and all will be safe.

So "PilgrimFather" how does what the "Don't let a good crisis go to waste," democrats' solution change anything? Wouldn't it make it more likely that cowards like; at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook would take advantage of another gun free zone ? Hunter Dan has more of a solution but don't you have to wonder why places like NH who allow concealed weapons don't have tragedies like this and gun free zones are magnets for tragedies like this?

Van- Perhaps you would like to explain to me why reinstating a ban that was in place for years (formalizing a practice as old as the State itself), during which not a single instance of “killing zone” or “sitting duck” violence took place, will now lead to just that kind of mayhem, contrary to the consistent historical evidence?

Show me an example where guns were banned until the democrats took over. Because you say it doesn't make it fact.

So hundreds of years without a gun ban equals on a few decades with gun bans. Warped liberal thinking.

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