Governor Vetoes SB 318

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - Joined by more than 40 representatives of New Hampshire's law enforcement community, Gov. John Lynch announced this morning that he has vetoed Senate Bill 318, legislation that would have dramatically and inappropriately changed New Hampshire's laws governing the use of deadly force.

"Existing New Hampshire law makes clear that citizens can stand their ground and use deadly force whenever it is necessary to protect themselves and their loved ones, "Gov. Lynch said. "Our existing laws honor the sanctity of human life and the right of our citizens to defend themselves and others. It is a law that has worked well. I've seen no evidence of any case in New Hampshire where someone was unjustly prosecuted for defending themselves or their loved ones."

Current New Hampshire law allows a person to use deadly force in any location against another in response to deadly force, or to prevent the commission of a serious crime such as kidnapping or forcible sexual assault, where and whenever those crimes may occur. Current law also allows New Hampshire citizens to use deadly force against intruders in their own homes, regardless of whether the intruder has used or threatened to use deadly force.

"This legislation would legalize a host of inappropriate uses of deadly force. This bill would allow a person to use deadly force in response to non-deadly force, even in public places such as shopping malls, public streets, restaurants, and churches. This is a dramatic change to our current laws. SB 318 would allow any shopper to shoot and kill a thief who grabbed or tugged at the shopper's purse, no matter how many shoppers might be placed in harm's way, "Gov. Lynch said.

"Under this proposed legislation, one drug dealer, or other hardened criminal, could kill another, and then claim self-defense in court. We do not want to put in place a law that would encourage felons to inject further violence in our communities," he said.

"I will continue to support legislation that supports our police officers, strengthens our public safety and honors the rights of New Hampshire citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones against danger. This legislation does not further any of those goals," Gov. Lynch said.

Among the people joining Gov. Lynch for today's announcement were Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, Strafford County Attorney Janice Rundles, Carroll County Sheriff Scott Carr, representing the New Hampshire Sheriffs Association, New Hampton Police Chief Nathan Sawyer, representing the New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs, Col. Fred Booth of the New Hampshire State Police, and representatives from the Pittsfield, Litchfield, Londonderry, Allenstown, Bow, Weare, Goffstown, Keene, Merrimack, Bedford, Pelham, Claremont, Enfield, Manchester, Milford, Sanborton, Windham, Hollis, New London, Bradford, Boscawen police departments, and the Hillsborough, Grafton and Carroll County Sheriff departments, and of Police Standards and Training.