Statewide ban on guns in schools?
Current federal law designates schools as “gun-free zones” meaning only licensed adults can bring guns onto school grounds. While New Hampshire prohibits students from bringing guns to school, it does not further regulate licensed adults bringing guns onto school property.
HB 564, sponsored by Representative Mary Heath (D), would prohibit all firearms in school safe zones. Anyone found to be in violation would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The proposed bill allows for the following exceptions: persons dropping off or picking up a student provided the firearm is in a vehicle and properly secured, a person duly authorized in writing by the school board to possess a firearm, or a law enforcement officer, trained resource officer, or member of the armed services.
While HB 564 would give the state the sole authority to regulate guns, another bill being considered in 2019, HB 101, would give the power to regulate firearms in safe school zones to the local school districts.
Pros and cons of HB 564
Supporters of prohibiting guns in school safe zones altogether express concern about armed parents in disputes with other parents and teachers, and note that armed citizens can cause confusion for law enforcement if there is ever an active shooter. There are also those who believe that guns have no place on school grounds.
Banning firearms on school grounds would also ban firearms from the voting booth, whenever the polls are located on school grounds; some voters and poll workers feel intimidated by armed voters.
Opponents of the proposed law say an armed adult serves as a deterrent to those who would wish to do harm and worry that banning guns would leave schools vulnerable in the case of violent acts. They feel that the bill imposes unnecessary restrictions on lawful gun owners.
Other opponents argue that the decision should be left to local school districts.
Should New Hampshire prohibit guns in all safe school zones?
Discussion held on Citizens Count website and Facebook page January 29, 2019
No: 311 people were opposed to banning guns in safe school zones.
- “No. NH schools should never be designated gun-free zones. Aside from the violation of Constitutional rights, it only serves to set our children up to become victims. Over 90% of mass shootings happen in gun-free zones. Why would you want to create such a place for your children? We should be arming and training our teachers, so that they can, as first responders in such situations, keep our children, our future, safe.”
- “Licensed concealed carry holders are not the ones committing crimes. Criminals don’t care about your gun free zones. This is another law attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, meanwhile trampling the rights of law abiding gun owners.”
- “When was the last time a concealed carry permit holder shot up a school?”
Yes: 25 people were in favor of banning guns in safe school zones.
- “I am a NH resident, gun owner and teacher and I support this bill.”
- “Sensible, responsible gun control. No gun should be allowed on school property, unless, as stated, the person carrying is a law enforcement officer. I can't believe after all the kids that have been killed this discussion continues.
- “Absolutely schools should be gun free zones for both Students [and] all adults. Schools = gun free, period.”
Other: 13 people commented on related questions and issues instead.
- Depends who is carrying the gun: “I see a lot of guns at courthouses and airports. Most guards and police officers carry them.”
- Some gun owners aren’t sure: “I'm conflicted and I carry everywhere…”
*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.