OPINION: 'Helping' NH Farmers Is Just Another Poor Excuse for a Confusing Bill
Now, I know we’ve had some odd, late-season winter weather lately, but Senate Bill 500 is the snow job of the tallest order.
It was reported last week that as SB 500 came out of the NH House, it “would ease restrictions on farmers carrying guns." So, naturally, a casual reader who sees that would say “Oh, it’s helps the farmers? That’s OK then." And that my friends is exactly what supporters of the bill want you to think. What the bill actually does is create confusion where it doesn’t exist.
Currently in the state of New Hampshire, there is a law that prohibits the carrying of loaded rifles, muzzleloaders or shotguns in motor vehicles, OHRVs, snowmobiles or aircraft whether stationary or moving, and aboard boats in motion. That’s pretty cut and dry.
The bill as it came out of the House would limit the prohibition to vehicles in motion. So, by their definition, I can have a loaded shotgun on my OHRV or snowmobile, or in my truck, if I’m sitting still.
Why? What’s the purpose? I still have to unload it before I move.
Perhaps somebody got fined for possessing a loaded weapon on or in a vehicle and this is their way of getting back at a perceived injustice? And, can any rational person tell me why you needed to have a loaded rifle or shotgun in a plane sitting on the runway?
So instead of a clear cut law, now we’ll start dismantling it with exceptions. The exemption for farmers is borderline insulting. They’re implying that farmers need this bill in order to carry loaded weapons to deal with predators. Last time I checked, farms were private property, and if farmers choose to carry a loaded weapon on their tractor, that’s their prerogative.
It's something they can already do. They don’t need this bill to address their predator issues.
Decades of firearm safety will be thrown out the window for the sake of trying to get a quicker shot at a bear, deer or moose, which is curious because according to a state RSA, “It is unlawful to discharge a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt within 15 feet of the traveled portion of, or across any class I through V highway."
So, you have to get off the OHRV or out of the vehicle and get 15 feet off the road before you can shoot. You can’t sit in or on the vehicle and discharge the weapon. V
ariations of this bill have been before the House a few times in recent years, and each time the supporters try to sugar-coat it and try to sell it as an advantage. It isn’t! It’s self-serving for only a few people and another potential danger for members of law enforcement.
Previous legislative bodies have seen through this canard and voted it down. One can only hope that happens again.
With all of the media scrutiny surrounding firearms, the last thing New Hampshire needs is to be seen trading safety and responsibility for an accident waiting to happen. That’s a bad trade.
Peter St. James is the host of the "Good Morning New Hampshire," which airs from 6-10 a.m. Monday-Friday on 107.7 WTPL The Pulse and 107.3 WEMJ.