Our Turn: New Hampshire House will not be a soft target

For the Monitor
Published: 1/7/2019 2:30:53 PM

Contrary to popular belief, the New Hampshire House will not be a gun-free zone. Any violent extremist who thinks that we’ve become a soft target needs to reassess the situation.

Many state representatives view the right of self-defense as a natural right, one that has been recognized by the N.H. and U.S. constitutions. Our right to self-defense cannot be infringed by any government body.

Due to our willingness to exercise our constitutional rights and because any attempt to disarm House members is foolish public policy, we reserve the right to refuse to comply.

We are not talking about an imaginary threat.

The political climate has been growing more violent, such as the act of politically involved shooter James Hodgkinson. Some seem to be forgetting that he showed up while a major political party was practicing for a collegial baseball game. Many know that Congressman Steve Scalise was critically wounded. Nearly all seem to be oblivious that Hodgkinson was there to assassinate as many congressmen as he could. Had it not been for good fortune, that field would have been a gun-free zone allowing the assassin to fully execute his plan.

State Rep. Jeanine Notter reminded us of the brutal fact that 98 percent of mass shootings are taking place in areas that politicians have declared to be “gun-free.” While normal people hear the term “gun-free,” the mentally ill and/or politically agitated hear the term “soft target.” Terrorists seek out high-value, soft targets to achieve maximum political effect. It is what they do.

Reps. Alicia Lekas, Stephen Smith and Kim Rice spoke to real threats and acts of violence communicated to N.H. representatives and others. Indeed, Rep. Lekas took to the well to share a personal story of being chased by a ne’er-do-well and how she benefited by being protected by a parking lot attendant who fortunately was nearby.

Last term New Hampshire passed “constitutional carry” because we know that a firearm in the possession of a threatened person is a great equalizer.

One may ask, “What about Rule 63, the effort to disarm all representatives without qualification”?

There are sound arguments that the N.H. House makes its own rules on “proceedings” but does not have the authority to strip representatives of their rights. N.H. courts are unlikely to enter the fray given we are a separate and co-equal branch of government. The only likely recourse is our own action.

Rather than getting bogged down in a legal discussion, let’s revisit the works of Henry David Thoreau. In his 1849 little known book, “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” he wrote of his travels from Concord, Mass., to Concord, N.H. We should metaphorically drink from those waters as we take a page from one of his greatest works, “Civil Disobedience.”

There are times when the acts of a majority are so repugnant to the dignity of the individual that the act itself is cast asunder. The act removes itself from the realm of legitimate government authority and is to be ignored, if not openly held in disdain.

Thoreau had libertarian sensibilities, and many of his writings resonate today. Unfortunately, the nation has lost much of the spirit in which he wrote. For a more modern reference, let’s look at how our country reacted to the My Lai massacre.

The massacre occurred 50 years ago at the hands of U.S. forces and became a key reference point in military training to teach our service members that there is a duty to disobey an unlawful order.

We view Rule 63 as illegitimate. We view Rule 63 as having the perverse effect of increasing the risk to everyone in the House gallery and chambers.

To make this point of view more approachable for our progressive friends, we are morally obligated to “resist.”

To any violent extremist with intent to do harm, know that the N.H. House will not be a soft target.

(State Rep. Jess Edwards, a Republican, lives in Auburn. The column was co-signed by Republican Reps. Alicia Lekas of Hudson, Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, Greg Hill of Northfield, Howard Pearl of Loudon, Mark Warden of Manchester, Chris True of Sandown and Jeanine Notter of Merrimack.)


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