Editorial: In the House, a good first step
The new session of the New Hampshire Legislature hasn’t yet started, but already things are moving in the right direction. Last week the House Rules Committee voted to recommend reinstating the ban on guns in the House chamber. When the full House reconvenes after New Year’s, members should quickly endorse this sensible measure.
At issue is a rule approved in 2011 that allowed the carrying of concealed weapons in the House chamber, cloakrooms, anteroom and adjacent areas. That measure had the backing of the last Legislature’s large Republican majority. But with a new Democratic majority now in place, reinstating the longtime gun ban stands a good chance of passage.
At the Rule Committee hearing last week and beyond, the debate around this issue has been disquieting indeed – as it was when the ban was lifted in 2011. Supporters of guns in the House chamber imagined an angry gunman in the House gallery. Rather than give such a madman 400 “sitting ducks” as targets, they argued, the presence of concealed guns amid the lawmakers could deter a shooting. Others imagined lawmakers defending themselves from such an attack – and stopping the gunman.
Or not. Imagine panicked legislators shooting into the gallery, an area regularly filled with tourists, fourth-grade field-trippers, lobbyists and others. The idea is terrifying.
Americans have rightly concluded that there are some places where civilians simply shouldn’t bring their guns. Schools are on that list, as are courtrooms. Representatives Hall will be safer without armed lawmakers.