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.)