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My Turn: Restrictions on gun rights are unconstitutional

It would be absurd if a group of politicians wanted to ban a list of controversial books or require a background check that verified the completion of civics education before anyone could vote in an election. After all, the state and federal constitutions protect the right to free speech, regardless of where a person happens to be, and the federal Constitution protects the right of everyone 18 and older to vote.

The U.S. Constitution also protects the right to “keep and bear arms” and specifically asserts that this right “shall not be infringed” by Congress. Our state Constitution protects the right of individuals who are “defending life and liberty” or “protecting property.” It also specifically affirms: “All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.” Unlike the right to vote, there are no constitutional restrictions on these God-given natural rights of self-defense.

Why then, is it not absurd for politicians to seek restrictions on citizens’ right to defend themselves from potentially lethal attacks “wherever they have a right to be,” as our state law now says? Why is it not absurd to require background checks before someone can buy a constitutionally protected product? Why is it not absurd to contemplate banning any weapon that a person can bear? How are these restrictions of the right to self-defense any different from the restrictions to voting or speech rights contemplated above?

Quite simply: Any restriction on gun rights or the right to self-defense is equally absurd and unconstitutional.

Yet a group of Democratic state legislators have made it their priority to violate gun owners’ constitutional rights, at the expense of safety and the New Hampshire economy. The same Democrats who complained last session when Republicans lifted the unconstitutional ban on guns in parts of the State House reinstated the ban as their first order of business this year.

Then the Democrats busily got to work on bills to ban guns in public buildings, to prohibit people from showing a gun to diffuse a violent confrontation, to allow violent aggressors to sue people who use their gun in self defense, to require people to take a safety course before buying a gun, and to force innocent people to run and cower from someone trying to kill, rape or seriously harm them.

All the Democrats’ ideas to restrict gun rights this year are unconstitutional and a distraction from more important business, but the Democrats are working overtime to convince you it is a compromise for them to advance HB 135, a bill that would make you a criminal for defending your life with a gun outside your house. That bill is scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

Perhaps they expect a woman who is about to be raped to urinate or throw up on herself as she’s trying to get away from her rapist rather than stop the rape with her gun. Or maybe Democrats expect a disabled man in a wheelchair to let an assailant tip over his chair and take his wallet instead of prevent potentially life-threatening injuries and the theft with his gun. Do they think the well trained, concealed-carry license holder should let a madman shoot 30 people before the cops arrive or take the clear shot that he has and stop the mayhem? Maybe Democrats want a young mother to allow her children to be murdered as she runs under a table to hide instead of take a weapon from her purse and save her most precious loved ones.

It is clearly more important for House Democrats to stop law-abiding citizens from lawfully protecting themselves than to work on efforts to rebuild our struggling economy. What’s worse, a quick look at the statistics show how Democratic efforts to curb lawful gun rights in New Hampshire will actually contribute further to economic malaise.

By far, the firearms industry in New Hampshire generates more revenue per capita and employs more people per capita than the firearms industry in every other state. In New Hampshire, there are more than 5,100 people with an average pay of over $60,000 working in the firearms and ancillary industries generating more than $1.09 billion of economic activity, according to the National Shooting Sports Association, yet the Democrats want to shut this industry down.

The Democrats are not only trampling all over constitutionally protected rights, they are also actively working to destroy the New Hampshire economy.

(State Rep. JR Hoell is a Republican from Dunbarton.)

Legacy Comments16

"The Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms." Samuel Adams, debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87. ........."No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)

Hoell seems to be under the illusion that the 1st Amendment has no limits placed upon it. He makes no mention of the fact that libel laws and the long-standing and well-known understanding that one can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater are clear limits. So his argument by analogy falls apart. To think the 2nd is, or should be any different than the first defies reason and common sense. Are there no limits that civil society can place on firearms? Does Hoell think a bazooka would be fine to possess? An RPG? How about an Abrams tank for the gang at the gun shop? A tactical nuclear weapon? An originalist reading of the amendment might limit one to the possession of black powder muskets. Hoell is presumably a "strict constructionist" when it comes to reading the Constitution, yet his expansive (to say the least) reading of the 2nd Amendment is one that neither the Founders nor the Supreme Court accepts or intended.

The stance that the constitution is a living, breathing document and must be interpreted in light of present day needs is a convient one. It allows for folks to put any changes they deem needed based on their political agenda, in that document. If the constituion does not mean what it says, it means nothing at all. If that is the case, then we end up with rule of whim, not rule of law.

If the constitution does not speak to the issues of the living it is dead. Punctilious attention to some mythic "original intent" or, worse, absolute literalism as practiced by Justice Clarence Thomas makes for angels on the head of a pin argument.

Using your logic I guess that there is not really a need for a "Constitution". You seem to be saying that we should just redefine rights by personal opinions of the present day based on what people believe. Of course you realize that our rights are being eroded? We have people trying to tell us how to live, what to eat, what to drink, what is correct to say, etc. We protect criminals who break into our homes will nefarious intent and everything is about the "failure" of society and people are just "misunderstood", right? I mean the fact that our actions mean something and determine consequences is secondary to "social justice". Once we start to dilute rights we are on a slippery slope to tyranny.

Two points worth noting: 1) JR Hoell is as qualified to determine what is or isn't constitutional as he is to perform neurosurgery; 2) his exaggerations verge on outright lying. The Democrats have no interest in shutting "the industry" down, only in requiring it to be more responsible in its marketing practices and accountable for the havoc its products cause.

Gracchus - this is just ad hom attack. This not about the "industry" This is about NH. Why would a legislator who cared about NH citizens make it easier for criminals to sue citizens?

Stating Mr Hoell's lack of qualifications to determine constitutionality is not ad hominem. The fact is that the firearms industry and firearms users have been granted a higher level of immunity from legal action than any other businesses or persons.

Why would anybody, who said they cared about NH citizens, make it easier for criminals to sue lawful citizens than the other way around? Is that caring about NH's law-abiding citizens'?

The proposed change in this law would do nothing to make a NH citizens safe! A legislator assured me we still "have the right to defend ourselves, maybe". The only thing this bill does is place a law-abiding citizen, forced to defend themselves, in legal jeopardy. Without the protection of the law, as it was a citizen forced to defend themselves or their family by warding off an assailant with a firearm - is wide open to endless prosecution and financial ruin through endless charges and litigation. A thwarted assailant just has to allege criminal threatening to have a citizen charged, jailed, fined and in short ruined. Another legislator stated if placed in this danger in the future, he would have no recourse but to kill the assailant or face lifelong legal battles.. The criminals now could use our “justice” and legal systems to victimize citizens they were unable to rob, injure, or murder. How is that justice at any level? I encourage employing common sense. Why does a small group of radicals want you to believe that a law-abiding citizen, forced to defend themselves with a weapon, are more of a danger than robbers, rapists, and murderers?

Here is the whole of the second amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Clearly, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, in the service of a well-regulated militia, is what's being protected here - not the rights of individuals. I also wonder.... if the the kind of "arms" that we have now had been commonplace when this amendment was created, would the amendment have looked different? Do you think the founders who wrote the bill of rights had semi-automatic weapons in mind?

Rep Hoell uses the word "un/constitutional" more than ten times to fortress his argument against any gun legislation. I find it amazing how gun advocates are constitutional experts in this regard. Yet he never once mentions Sandy Hook and other tragedies. He thus is suggesting we continue down this road and do nothing. Don't 6 yo children have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? If we continue to do nothing we accept the deaths of these children as collateral damage so gun owners can exercise their "constitutional" rights.

betablocker - of course we want to mitigate tragedies like sandy hook. However, that occurred in a state/city with stringent "gun laws" - volumes of them. With heaps more the same, our expectations should be what? Like the name; are you selective or non-selective? :-)

By making this comment you are actually explaining why state gun laws are useless if the next state has lax gun laws. That is why a federal gun laws must be enforced.

tillie - If only it was that simple. History shows us criminals & the criminally insane do not obey laws. Chicago has very stringent "gun laws" and worst of violent crime. There people do drugs and other crimes. Newtown happens and all of a sudden the 2nd amendment should be repealed or altered. Nineteen of 20 Newtown children are white. Chicago children are mostly black. The media is silent about Chicago violence. WHY? Chicago: 446 school age children shot last year with strongest gun laws in country – the media is silent The cesspool known as Chicago probably has the toughest gun laws in the country, yet despite all the shootings, murders, and bloodshed, you never hear a peep about this from the corrupt state run media. In Chicago , there have been 446 school age children shot in leftist utopia run by Rahm Emanuel and that produced Obama, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, etc. 62 school aged children have actually been killed by crazed nuts in Chicago so far this year. So why isn’t this news worthy? Is it because it would embarrass those anti second amendment nuts who brag about Chicago ’s tough gun laws? Is it because most of the kids who were shot and killed were minorities? Or is it because the corrupt media doesn’t want to show Chicago in a bad light? THE LIST OF MURDERED SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN IN 2013 18 YEARS OLD- 15 17 YEARS OLD- 16 16 YEARS OLD- 16 15 YEARS OLD- 6 14 YEARS OLD- 4 13 YEARS OLD- 2 12 YEARS OLD- 1 7 YEARS OLD- 1 6 YEARS OLD- 1

Reid shut down the vote on assult weapons ban that Feinstein wanted. He is from a gun friendly state. I predicted this. The Dem pols up for re election in gun friendly states are not going to risk their election chances. Dems talk a good game, but like most Pols, they put themselves first. I will be happy if we get better background checks that make it mandatory for states to report mental health records. And we actually enforce the laws we have now, and enforce them with stricter penalties.

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