In New Hampshire, the right to bear arms is protected by the state’s Constitution. You don’t need a license to purchase a firearm in New Hampshire. You also are not required to register your gun.
Who can possess a firearm in New Hampshire?
There is no minimum age in New Hampshire for possessing a firearm. However, only a parent, grandparent or legal guardian can transfer a gun to someone under 18.
Under federal law, you can’t buy a gun if you:
Are a convicted felon
Have been convicted of certain drug crimes
Are the subject of a domestic violence protective order, including those issued for threatening an intimate partner or for stalking
Are in the United States illegally
Are deemed a “mental defective” or have been involuntarily committed
Mental illness and gun ownership
Federal law prohibits the possession of a firearm by anyone who "has been adjudicated as mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution." However, New Hampshire keeps mental health records confidential and does not therefore provide them to the national database used to perform background checks.
There have been attempts in recent years to institute a “red flag law” allowing law enforcement to confiscate weapons from those who may pose a threat to themselves or others.
Buying a gun in New Hampshire
If you want to buy a firearm in New Hampshire, you must show ID.
Nonresidents can't buy long guns unless they are eligible to purchase them in their home state. Pistols and revolvers cannot be purchased across state lines. This is prohibited at the federal level.
Those who buy a gun have a responsibility to keep it somewhere safe. You may be charged with "negligent storage of firearms" if a child gains access to your firearm and uses it in "a reckless or threatening manner."
Selling guns in New Hampshire
Firearms dealers in New Hampshire must obtain a license from their city or town if they intend to sell handguns.
Concealed carry in NH
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm can carry it both openly or concealed without a permit, unless they are in a location where guns are specifically restricted.
Even though New Hampshire doesn’t require a concealed carry permit, you can still acquire such a permit if you choose. This is sometimes useful because of “concealed carry reciprocity”—the fact that some states requiring concealed carry permits will honor those from other states.
Background checks and waiting periods
New Hampshire does not require a waiting period before finalizing a gun purchase. In accordance with federal law, licensed firearm dealers must conduct a background check on anyone who purchases a gun. For handgun sales, these checks are conducted by the New Hampshire Department of Safety. Long gun sale background checks are conducted by the FBI. Both checks are usually conducted on the spot but can take anywhere from an hour up to several days.
In New Hampshire, a private individual may sell a gun to another New Hampshire resident, so long as the seller either personally knows the buyer (and thereby has no reason to believe the person is prohibited possessing a gun), or the buyer has a license to carry in New Hampshire. Since private sales sometimes happen at gun shows, those who disagree with this practice often refer to it as the “gun show loophole.”
Where are guns prohibited
You can't bring a firearm into a New Hampshire court and public school students can't carry firearms on school grounds. Additional regulations limit the possession of firearms in licensed child care facilities, foster homes, and prison grounds.
You cannot discharge a firearm within 300 feet of a permanently occupied dwelling without the landowner's permission.
Assault weapons are semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines and allow for accessories like lights and scopes to be mounted easily. A federal ban on private ownership of semi-automatic firearms classified as "assault weapons" expired in September 2004. The use of such weapons in high-profile mass shootings, such as the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, has made them a particular area of concern for gun control advocates.
Bump stocks are a type of gun stock that make a semi-automatic rifle shoot rapidly, more like an automatic weapon. As of March 2019, the federal government has banned bump stocks for most civilians. This change was made in the wake of the much-publicized Las Vegas shooting in 2017, in which the shooter used a bump stock.
"NH should pass stricter gun control laws."
- The United States has a much higher rate of gun-related deaths than other industrialized countries with stricter firearms regulations, such as Japan (0.26), Germany (0.95), Australia (0.89), and the United Kingdom (1.20).
- A gun at home is 22 times more likely to be used in the murder of a family member, an unintentional shooting, or a suicide than for purposes of self-defense.
- The Second Amendment was intended to permit a militia, such as the National Guard, to carry arms, not every citizen.
- Universal background check requirements and waiting periods could help deter or prevent some crimes.
- Mass shootings are most often done with legally owned weapons. Therefore, imposing stricter gun laws would likely reduce the number and severity of mass shootings.
"NH gun control laws are fine, or should be loosened."
- The homicide rate in the United States has consistenly decreased, even as firearm ownership has increased.
- Criminals do not follow laws, so regulations on firearms only hurt legal gun owners.
- Some scholars have argued that gun control laws have no significant impact on violent crime or suicide rates.
- The Second Amendment protects an individual's right to gun ownership for the purposes of self-defense.
- The possibility that the potential victim could possess a gun acts as a deterrent to criminals.
- Guns don't kill, people do. Efforts to reduce violence should focus on the causes of criminal activity, not the tools used to perpetrate it.