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--
ARE YOU PEOPLE UP THERE OK YOU TALK LIKE YOUR NUTS IT IS MAYBE IN THE WATER YOU DRINK
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.