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Emails From A Thousand Stand Your Ground Supporters 

            More than a thousand.

            That would be the answer if the question were, “How many emails has your average New Hampshire Represenative on the Criminal Justice Committee received in opposition to House Bill 135 which will be heard this afternoon?”

            They began arriving Friday afternoon.  As soon as I’d clear out a few dozen, another few dozen would have arrived.

            Usually on the morning after a weekend, I’ll have about a hundred emails to deal with.  I have guessed that I’d probably have two or three hundred this Tuesday morning.


            There were 880 in my box at 9 a.m., more than 90 percent of them concerning this bill.  Between 10 a.m. and noon, another 50 arrived, and in the time it takes to write this, I expect another 50 to come through.

            I’ve never seen anything like this, but then of course, I’ve never been on Criminal Justice at a time when gun rights were so much in the air.

            This bill, sponsored by Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff of Concord, is not complicated.

            It amends the so-called Stand Your Ground rule, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year, to remove the section allowing deadly force to be used “anywhere he or she has a right to be”.   The bill also repeals language which allows brandishing; in other words, it makes brandishing a weapon more problematical.

            Deadly force within a person’s own dwelling would still be allowed.

            Whether or not the bill is a good idea remains to be seen.  As I tried to explain to some people who objected most vociferously to the bill even being filed—here's a classic example of how NOT to win friends and influence people--



            This is the New Hampshire House.  Any one of 400 members is entitled to file a bill on any subject and a hearing is scheduled, and both opponents and proponents are invited to come and testify.  Unlike in Washington D.C., a committee chair cannot kill a bill by refusing to hear it.  All bills must come to the floor here.

            That’s the way we operate, and I think that’s proper.

            Any citizen also has the right to contact a Representative, but it takes only a little common sense to realize that your average human being cannot respond, let alone even read or open, more than a thousand emails while dealing with other business at the same time.

            In the past, I remember being inundated with emails (from both sides) on various topics from gay marriage to speed limits on lakes and any number of topics, but this sets a record, and I must add that these aren’t even mass produced emails.  I’m sure talking points have been issued by organizers (perhaps the NRA), but most of the emails are individualized, and 99 percent or more are opposed to the bill.

            Some of them are offensive, but most are rather reasonable.  I could find only one or two from my ward—there seems to be a heavy Nashua interest in this—but everybody is entitled to weigh in.

            Since I can’t answer each and every one individually, I will say here, thank you for taking the time to address the matter.  I voted for the Stand Your Ground bill last year.  I certainly believe everybody has the right to defend himself or herself.  I believe in your right to own a gun; however, as Justice Anotonin Scalia--no left winger he--has made clear, reasonable limits can be applied without violating the Constitution.  Whether or not the proposal in this bill is reasonable is the question before us.  Rest assured, the burden of proof will be on Rep. Shurtleff (he seems to be the sole sponsor of the bill).   However, he has every right to offer the bill just as you have a right to oppose it.

            Keep this in mind.  Republicans controlled the New Hampshire House 298-102 after the 2010 election.  After the 2012 election, Democrats held a 222-178 advantage (two Reps have since resigned).

            Does this mean the bill will pass?

            No, but keep in mind that, as I am fond of saying, elections have consequences. 

            Is a consequence of the 2012 election that the House will be less anxious to pass gun friendly bills?

            Of course it is.

            At last check, the hearing for 1:30 had NOT been moved to Reps Hall, but a double room on the second floor of the legislative office building has been made available.  It’s the last bill of the day—good thing—it could take a while.

            See you there.  Now, it’s time to see how many more emails have hit while I was writing this.

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Reader Comments (9)

Justice Anotonin Scalia offered an 'opinion'. That is what the Supreme Court does, offers opinions, they do not create laws, nor are they the final arbitrators of the law, that is left to the Several States which formed the Republic and the citizens of the several States. Your editorial appears to walk back from protecting the rights of citizens, hiding behind the Supreme Court's opinion, and worse, muddying the waters concerning what constitutes 'reasonable' limits. I believe the people have had enough of their rights being violated, rights endowed to us through God, protected in our Bill of Rights and the Rule of Law. The people have been very patient with this long train of abuses. Firearms are the teeth of the people's liberty, the ultima civis ratio in our defense of our rights. Don't tread on me.
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFranklin Peirce
Steve –
No expert am I, but I cannot find "reasonable limits" to the right to bear arms either in New Hampshire's constitution or the less pertinent rule book for the united states. Should such caveat not exist in either, wouldn't a change to relevant constitutions be required to make it all legal and stuff, just like the tee-totallers had to do to prohibit their particular drug of distaste? That said, I can certainly understand that certain uses of arms or speech would bear the brunt of swift and severe legal actions, like yelling "fire" in a movie theatre, or firing a gun in same.
– C. dog
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
I've always had a bit of difficulty understanding this. I "get" the in-your-own-house situation, but if I'm on a street, for instance, or in a parking lot, and feel "threatened," or am challenged, such as someone's yelling at me and I'm "fearful," and I have a gun in my pocket -- or let's say I'm open-carrying, and I use it, does current law say I'm just standing my ground? Sort of like the Old West, when if Lucas McCain is challenged by someone on the streets of Northfork he can snap his rifle into action without trying to walk away instead?

Just would like to know.
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim Splaine
What I write here cannot be considered an editorial. In the case of this blog, I was mostely just offering facts. I didn't express an opinion regarding the bill since I had not made up my mind--in fact I still haven't, but for this person writing under Franklin Pierce to claim that the Supreme Court (Scalia) is not the final arbiter of laws is simply to display an ignorance of the Constitution. Where state courts and the Supreme Court are in conflict, the Supremes rule. It's hard to communicate with someone who fails to see that basic fact. The claim that this bill is a violation of the Second Amendment is equally as crazy. We would revert back to the system that was in place for 40 years, from 1971 on; and in no way does this bill say you cannot have a gun, so those who oppose the bill need to be careful about making just plain silly claims. They don't help your cause and tend to alienate people like me who are truly on the fence. As I said before and will keep on saying, "Elections have consequences." Not only did Obama win in November, but Democrats won 222 of 400 seats in the NH House. That's an immutable fact.
I'm very close to reaching a decision on this bill and promise not to keep it a secret when I do, but one should not mistake curiosity for certainty at this point.
January 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterRep Steve Vaillancourt
This bill seems so, so French to me. Why would anyone want to imitate the French ... except when it comes to their cooking?
– C. dog
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
There are reasonable limits to all rights, C. Dog. The press has limits, speech has limits, where religion and state can be mixed has limits, religious freedom itself has limits. The right to assemble has limits. So your gun rights have limits just as other rights do. And all this God given rights stuff is nonsense. That is an old Whiggish belief that went out with the Constitution. It was not any creator that crafted the Bill of Rights, it was men named James Madison, his committee and those who ratified them. Using God is a cop-out people use when they run out of reason.
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames Veverka
Actually, Jimmy, a free person's rights exist independent of government force and decree. All Grate Government does is prevent one from exercising their rights, not granting such rights as bequeaths from a king, or a real cool Prez. But given the vast majority of Libs have been raised on the notion that everything comes from Sugar Daddy Uncle Sammy and Nice ol' Nanny – what with only your government issue education to guide you – I shouldn't expect more.

So, perhaps you could answer the question I put forth: if Nattering Nannies had to pass a constitutional amendment to impose reasonable limits on the serf's ability to access alcohol – by the way, not even one of the enumerated rights – then prey tell, Jimmy, why don't the Libs and their ilk have to do same for enumerated rights? Or do I have the spelling wrong, and they are really just ceremonial rites – whereas Mob rules!
– C. dog, sans wig, flying his freak flag in the windchill
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
Representative Vaillancourt

Why is it super intelligent people can’t read a simple sentence and apply it to the lives that effect the populace under them? There is absolutely nothing in the Second Amendment making reference to ’reasonable’ or ’reasonable limits’. Is this false propaganda, ’reasonable’ or ’reasonable limits’ by Justice Scalia setting us up for a future decision? Steve you are wandering off the reservation of Libertarianism. There is ‘nothing” in the Second to infringe arms, licensure, type of arms, size, caliber etc., not a reference. Don’t be a water carrier for a super intelligent individual that can’t read and apply a simple sentence.

Relating to the right of defense in a legal place. ‘to remove the section allowing deadly force to be used “anywhere he or she has a right to be‘. Again, the super intelligent have to be spoon fed the pabulum. As before, there is absolutely nothing in Article 2a of the New Hampshire Constitution stating a legal presences. Time and time again the NH Supreme Court has ruled in favor of one’s private domain, ones ’Curtilage’, but has ruled many times against lawful protection beyond ones curtilage. Other words, I don’t have a right of protection beyond my domain, say in fields, woodland etc. I own the land and have a legal right of presence? Leave HB 135 intact.

Thank You, for your excellent service
January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHarold
The biggest reasonable limit is in the U.S. Constitution. It appears to limit guns for the purpose of a "well regulated militia". This bill would not limit your right to carry a gun; merely when and under what circumstances it can be used.
How about imitating the French in a finer art than cooking...oh, la, la, if you get my gist. Remember without Lafayette and Vergennes in the late 1770s and on into the 1780s, we's still be speaking cockney today!
Put me down in the pro-French and pro-reasonable limits category. C'est la guerre.
Libertarians seem obsessed with absolutism these days; that's why I wander from their path. I guess just like I'll never be a good Republican or a good Democrat, I'll never be a good (or at least a pure) Libertarian. I yam what I yam.
January 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterRep Steve Vaillancourt

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