Tempers flare after House passes gun background check bill again

Rep. Terry Roy, a Deerfield Republican, confronted another House member Thursday for allegedly calling him a “liar” while he was speaking in favor of his gun background check bill.

Rep. Terry Roy, a Deerfield Republican, confronted another House member Thursday for allegedly calling him a “liar” while he was speaking in favor of his gun background check bill. —Screenshot

By ANNMARIE TIMMINS

New Hampshire Bulletin

Published: 05-24-2024 11:31 AM

It was a dramatic 15 minutes on the House floor Thursday afternoon. 

First, the House likely picked a fight with the Senate by voting overwhelmingly to revive and send back to the Senate a gun background check bill senators tabled last week. This time, the House attached it to one of the Senate’s priority bills, which would put $40 million toward a new prison.

Moments after the House vote, the bill’s sponsor confronted another House member for allegedly yelling “liar” at him while he was speaking. 

Rep. Terry Roy, the Deerfield Republican who sponsored the bill that would add some mental health records to gun background checks, responded to questions from the Bulletin via text messages after the House resumed its work. 

Roy said he had confronted Rep. Cyril Aures, a Chichester Republican, following the House’s 212-155 vote in favor of his legislation. 

“I went over after the vote and asked him if he in fact did yell (liar) out and, if he did, would he care to explain later when not in the people’s House,” Roy wrote. “He then lost his mind and stood up and started screaming mother (expletive). I may have mentioned something about being an example of a dangerous mental health issue.” 

Some pro-Second Amendment groups have fought the bill, saying it fails to give people due process before their guns are taken. However, firearms would not be confiscated until after a court hearing, where an individual would have legal representation.

Aures, who was not among the 35 Republicans who voted for the legislation Thursday, did not respond to an email and could not be immediately reached. 

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Rep. J.R. Hoell, a Dunbarton Republican who spoke against Roy’s bill Thursday, witnessed the incident. He told the Bulletin in a text message, “I observed no actions from the representative from Chichester that would have precipitated this series of events.”

This is the second time the House has passed legislation that would add limited mental health records to background checks, something 47 other states do. 

House Bill 1711, sponsored by Roy and Rep. David Meuse, a Portsmouth Democrat, cleared the House in March, 202-149, with 25 Republicans joining Democrats in support. The Senate tabled it in a party-line vote earlier this month. 

It was unclear Thursday afternoon how the Senate would proceed when it gets back its prison appropriation bill, Senate Bill 476, next week. Senators could accept the changes, reject them and defeat the bill, or reach a compromise with the House. If it makes it to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk, he indicated he would sign it. 

A message to House Speaker Sherman Packard’s office was not returned. The House minority leader, Rep. Matt Willhelm, called the incident a “despicable stain” on the House in a statement Thursday.

“This behavior was unbecoming of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and should be strongly condemned by all legislators,” he said.