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N.H. House votes, by narrow margin, to repeal state’s “stand your ground” law

The Democratic-led House voted narrowly yesterday to repeal New Hampshire’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, which was enacted two years ago.

The 189-184 vote came after an hour and 45 minutes of hotly contested debate, and fell largely along party lines. Three Republicans and 186 Democrats voted for the bill, while 17 Democrats and 167 Republicans voted against it.

It now goes to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 13-11 majority.

Rep. Philip Ginsburg, a Durham Democrat, said yesterday that opponents were making too much of the legislation. He said the bill does not take away the right of self-defense, nor does it restrict gun rights.

Instead, he said, it’s an attempt to avoid situations where an armed person, in a public place, can “react without concern, aggressively, without consideration, without hesitation” to a perceived threat.

“This is a very small modification to a very large and complicated law. It is likely it will have very little effect on a very small number of people,” Ginsburg said.

But a succession of Republican speakers said the bill places people, and especially women, at risk by restricting their ability to respond to criminals and other threats.

“As a mother, it is my responsibility to protect my children from all harm, no matter what,” said Rep. Lenette Peterson, a Merrimack Republican. “Running from a would-be attacker would separate me from my children. What mother would knowingly separate herself from her children in a dangerous situation? If I have to take a few seconds to think about the escape, it’s too late: My kids and I are already vulnerable.”

In 2011, the Legislature expanded a state law allowing the use of deadly force in self-defense. Previously, people were obligated to withdraw from a situation if they could do so safely, unless they were in or around their home.

The stand your ground law removes that obligation to retreat, so long as the person was somewhere they were legally allowed to be. Then-Gov. John Lynch vetoed the bill, but Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate overrode his veto.

Similar laws are on the books in at least 21 states, including New Hampshire, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Last year, Democrats gained seats in the Senate and retook control of the House. House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat, introduced a bill that would repeal the stand your ground law, returning to the so-called “castle doctrine” that had been on the books until 2011.

It’s become one of the year’s most controversial pieces of legislation. Hundreds turned out in January for a public hearing, and last month the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee endorsed the repeal bill on a 12-6 vote.

The House yesterday adopted an amendment from the committee, stripping out two ancillary parts of Shurtleff’s bill, one dealing with civil liability and another dealing with the display of a deadly weapon.

It rejected two amendments offered by Rep. Dan Itse, a Fremont Republican, that would have made the state liable for loss of income, court costs and attorneys’ fees resulting from cases involving the repealed law.

Those three votes weren’t especially close: 217-115, 254-103 and 213-146, respectively.

The Senate will next act on the bill, and the issue likely won’t go away anytime soon. Rep. Al Baldasaro, a Londonderry Republican, said yesterday that opponents of the bill could benefit in the next election.

“Gun groups will not forget this in 2014. . . . It will help us then,” Baldasaro said.

A separate bill that would have repealed the state’s licensing requirement to carry a concealed weapon was killed by the House yesterday on a 226-144 vote.

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

Related

Merrimack County roll call on “stand your ground” repeal

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The New Hampshire House yesterday voted, 189-184, to pass a bill repealing the “stand your ground” self-defense law enacted in 2011. Here’s how Merrimack County’s representatives voted on House Bill 135, listed alphabetically by last name: Yes ∎ Rep. Caroletta Alicea, Boscawen Democrat ∎ Rep. Chris Andrews, Bow Democrat ∎ Rep. Christy Bartlett, Concord Democrat ∎ Rep. Candace Bouchard, Concord Democrat ∎ Rep. Clyde Carson, …

Legacy Comments11

lets put the facts on the table as they should be. 1) the original law stated that you must retreat if it is safe to do so. 2) you do not have to retreat from your home. The issue is... if you are in a public place or any other place than your home/property and faced with deadly force and use it... you really only have reaction time to decide to return deadly force in defense of self. All it takes is a prosecutor to say, we really think you did have the opportunity to retreat and should of... Law Enforcement seems to want the monopoly on "protection" and doing anything to protect yourself is almost like taking work from them, so of course they want to you call them first.

Gosh, I am so happy to see that nobody on the right is demagoguing this vote; that no knee-jerk gun supporter is threatening retaliation at the polls; that everybody is looking objectively at, and able to see, what the bill really does.

If you saw the wordage in this bill your head would spin trying to make sense of it....No 2 police officers interpret the law the same...So basically you are guilty until you can prove youreslf innocent and we all know those with deep pockets will get the best defense.........This bill is a joke, all this boils down to is Dermocrats are still upset over the Republicans getting there way the last 2yrs. so now they are going to do what they want....One of the Democrats in my area couldn't give me a reason why he was voting for HB 135..he just said it was a good idea.......I will be dammed if I turn and have to run to protect my Grandkids if we are at a fair or going out for ice-cream and are accosted by a felon that our politicians let out because they can't do there jobs and keep felons in jail...........I will stand my ground and protect my family........Maybe if one of you politicians was that women sitting in the subway last summer in Philly where a guy walked up to her and pushed her head into the wall and dragged her on the ground and threw her on the tracks you might have a different opinion..........Please tell her she needed to retreat...........You people are pathetic !!!

You have to wonder if the Dems are thinking straight? They seem to have a pattern of enacting these laws, without thinking who benefits from them. The only folks who will benefit from this are lawyers. They will be the ones who decide if you acted correctly or you should have retreated. They will not have been there to see what you were faced with, but they will decide what you should have done in those seconds you were being attacked. They will represent the perp you killed, by having the family sue you. You did not have to kill my son who was threatening you in the parking garage, you could have ran and now I want 100 grand.

What are they thinking?

The New Hampshire House voting to move against New Hampshire citizens, by hobbling the citizens self-defense law (stand your ground) is a regrettable move. It is my understanding, that if you and your family are faced with an criminal assailant you are now obliged to retreat before defending yourself (that is - run). The elderly and disabled can’t just run. Do I understand that you now have protection under New Hampshire law if you’re big & strong or can run fast and everybody else has to spin the wheel of fate? New Hampshire House has given more safety to criminal assailants by taking it away from New Hampshire citizens. When talking with the legislator, an ardent supporter of this anti-citizen move, it was explained if you defend yourself/family outside your home, the prosecutor may decide not to charge you. So now when citizens confronted by an assailant, have less protection under the law and have to rely on whether prosecutor feels like having you charged or not. If forced to defend yourself and you successfully diffuse the situation without violence, now the chances are greater a criminals can charge you with criminal threatening, see you tied up in court for years and crushed by legal fees. What is worse, that same legislator, an ardent supporter of this repeal, stated there had NEVER been a problem in New Hampshire since the law was modified to provide greater protection for law-abiding citizens. I repeat, there had NEVER been a problem with the law. That means this was not about safety, this was not about protection for New Hampshire citizens-this was pure politics. Why would any legislator vote to give more rights to assailants, rapists and murderers by taking protection away from law-abiding citizens?

Remember when the Democrats were going to be all about jobs and the economy???

Yes, like many posters here posted for two years......"where are the jobs"? Well, Democrats, where are the jobs? They must be using the Obama 'laser beam' to bring us jobs, it is just not focused yet. But it is focused on all things "social" and ideological.

Takes a little time to undo the damage you guys did, Itsa, in the two years you spent on social engineering. Lets see for two years the time spent on guns, guns, guns, voter id, tax credits for private schools, birth control, abortion, right to work. I am sure I've forgotten something. In that two years, Itsa, how many job bills did you all bring forth? How may jobs did you bring to the state, and how many did you lose? Starting with hospitals and the university system.

democrats have lost ~3000 jobs since Maggie took office

Look over there! Don't look here!!

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