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Waiting period to buy a gun?


When it comes to gun laws, New Hampshire is a Constitutional carry state. No license is required to buy, own or carry a firearm. Federal law requires licensed firearms dealers — but not private sellers — to do a background check on the individual who wants to purchase a gun.

Learn more about New Hampshire’s gun laws 

In its current session the state Legislature is considering HB 514, a bill that would require a mandatory waiting period of seven days to buy a weapon. The seven days excludes holidays and weekends, meaning the waiting period could extend up to 10 days.​

Some exceptions​

The measure would apply to licensed sellers, including importers, manufacturers, dealers, and collectors.

It does not apply to private sales and to individuals buying a shotgun or rifle who have taken the state’s 16-hour hunter safety course or who already has a valid state hunting license. Nor does the waiting period apply to law enforcement personnel or active duty military.

Pros and cons

Proponents of the legislation cite research that shows a seven-day “cooling off” period can reduce gun violence. They say it pauses impulse-buying motivated by anger or desperation, potentially stopping someone from doing themselves or others harm with a gun.

Opponents, citing the constitutional right to possess firearms, say there is no statistical evidence that a waiting period does, in fact, reduce gun-related incidents. They also say a waiting period puts a person who needs a gun for protection at potential risk.​

Should New Hampshire require a seven-day waiting period to buy a gun?

Discussion held on Citizens Count website and Facebook page January 21, 2019

450 citizens responded 393 citizens were opposed to a seven-day waiting period for gun purchases31 citizens were in favor of a seven-day waiting period for gun purchases 26 citizens commented on related questions or issues
What Participants Said

No: 393 people were opposed to a seven-day waiting period for a gun purchase. 

  • “This is a useless measure that does nothing but separate people in need of the ability to defend themselves from the means to do so.” 
  • “No. A right delayed, is a right denied. Did you see the bill also has a 7 day wait on buying ammo, and creates a gun and ammo sales registry? Hell no.” 
  • “No. I'm a law abiding citizen that can legally possess a firearm. Why do I need to wait to purchase a firearm.”

Yes: 31 people were in favor of a seven-day waiting period for a gun purchase.

  • “If you want something that bad, you can wait a week.” 
  • “A 7 day wait is no big deal. Took longer to get my passport. If it prevents criminals and mentally ill from getting guns, why not?” 
  • “Yes. The 7 day time period will give state employees time to do their jobs efficiently. If you don't have any deniable offenses you should have nothing to worry about and waiting a few days won't kill you, unlike a firearm transferred to someone who shouldn't have it.” 

Other: 26 people commented on related questions and issues instead.
These included:

  • Political ramifications: “Any politician who votes for this is willfully touching a political third rail.  Kiss their career goodbye.” 
  • Alternative proposals: “I think if someone is buying a gun for the first time then there should be a wait and no rush.  But if someone already has a number of them and is just buying something for a collection then waiting is meaningless.” 
  • Effectiveness of background check system: “I have to mention about a parent who gave a gun to an adult child, who should never even have a gun. She is a mental case. So much for back ground check.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.

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