An Open Letter to the NRA

As the Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the State of New Hampshire, I am writing to you to set the record straight regarding the statement posted on your website about HB330. You have been given misinformation (I prefer not to call anyone a liar) by your state NRA-ILA representative, John Hohenwarter. I do not appreciate his unprofessional behavior, which has been contrary and harmful to NRA’s reputation. 

HB 330 was carefully crafted to do one thing, to return to the people of New Hampshire their right to carry concealed without asking for or paying for the government’s permission to exercise a Constitutional right. This bill was vetted in the House of Representatives not once, but four times. 

There was a public hearing, and the people of New Hampshire came to express their feelings and opinions.  There were multiple public subcommittee meetings, which your State affiliate GO-NH and your representative Mr. Hohenwarter failed to attend. Many others did attend and voice their concerns and opinions, which were taken into consideration by the committee. 

The only communication with the subcommittee by GO-NH/Hohenwarter was via an e-mail which suggested the so-called “NRA amendment.”  This amendment was considered and rejected by the committee, in part because it was too extensive, proposed new gun control measures, instituted new criminal penalties, and added NICS checks on licenses. For those reasons and others it was felt the amendment should be offered as a bill of its own so it would go through the proper process of a public hearing and vetting.  HB330 was again heard in Executive Session, where the committee discusses the pros and cons of the bill, and finally it went before the whole House of Representatives for a vote of “ought to pass” or “inexpedient to legislate.”  The bill passed out of the House with a large margin of victory and was sent to the Senate. 

Just prior to the full vote of the House, the “NRA amendment” was again presented to us via communication from the Majority office, but it was rejected again for the same reasons listed above; this was done with the full support of leadership, who agreed an amendment such as this one should never simply be attached to a bill, but vetted in the public eye on its own merits. Mr. Hohenwarter was again told to offer it as a second-year bill, so that the proper process could be followed.  There are many in New Hampshire who would oppose new criminal penalties and question the mere addition of NICS checks as being ineffective to achieve a NICS-exempt carry license.

It is also likely your representative confused HB330 with another bill, HB536, which was retained in committee.  The NRA criticisms of HB330 are in fact the problems contained in HB536, not HB330.  I am not sure of Mr. Hohenwarter’s personal agenda, but it has clearly been obstructionist.  Furthermore, his unprofessional behavior is not what New Hampshire citizens deserve.

Sincerely,

Representative Elaine Swinford

Chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

Belknap – District 5