Three extremely important bills have been filed by New Hampshire legislators who are dedicated to protecting the natural human right to bear arms. Both bills will have public hearings in the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, February 8th. While nearly every public hearing is held in a room within the State House or Legislative Office Building, hearings that are expected to draw hundreds of citizens are conducted in Representative Hall, the massive, 400-seat room that the largest state legislative chamber in the union occupies when voting on proposed laws. It seems that the leadership of New Hampshire is confident that an unusually large number of people will attend these hearings to communicate their opinions to the legislators on the committee.
Sponsored by a first-term Representative, former US Marine, and computer engineer, Tom Mannion, House Bill 474 focuses on prohibiting law enforcement agents in New Hampshire from enforcing any laws, regulations, or policies passed by DC politicians and bureaucrats that violate the natural right to keep and bear arms. Mannion’s strategy may not be the typical approach to gun control nullification, but the bill has some elements that gun-rights enthusiasts are likely to appreciate.
First, the bill begins with beautiful, extensive declarations about natural rights, the founding, and the role of the federal government.
Second, the bill focuses on the natural rights of humans and specifically mentions the natural right to own property (including guns and ammunition) and the natural right to self-defense.
Third, the bill makes it clear that it does not just apply to guns; it repeatedly uses the phrase “firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition”. I believe that this is an effective catch-all.
Fourth, it makes it clear that “Any tax, levy, fee, or stamp imposed on firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition not common to all other goods and services…Any registering or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition…Any registration or tracking of the owners of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition…Any act forbidding the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition by law-abiding citizens…Any act ordering the confiscation of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition from law-abiding citizens…” shall no longer be enforceable within New Hampshire’s borders: “No entity or person, including any public officer or employee of this state or any political subdivision of this state, shall have the authority to enforce or attempt to enforce any federal acts, laws, executive orders, administrative orders, court orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances infringing on the right to keep and bear arms as described under RSA 159-E:4.”
Fifth, Mannion clearly establishes ramifications for police officers or other government officials who violate this law: “Any entity or person who knowingly violates the provisions of RSA 159-E:7 or otherwise knowingly deprives a citizen of New Hampshire of the rights described while acting under the color of any state or federal law shall be liable to the injured party in an action at law, suit in equity, or other legal proceeding for redress.
II. In such actions, the court may award the prevailing party, other than the state of New Hampshire or any political subdivision of the state, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
III. Sovereign, official, or qualified immunity shall not be an affirmative defense in an action under this section.” The bill does not create criminal penalties for cops who attempt to confiscate guns. It creates a civil cause of action, which gives standing to victims to sue cops who violate their natural rights and this law. It is fantastic that he makes it clear that cops cannot confiscate guns and then use ‘qualified immunity’ as a way to avoid lawsuits. The bill also blocks any government official who tries to enforce federal gun control from working in law enforcement in New Hampshire and orders that any state or local cop who violates this law be terminated immediately. “Neither the state nor any political subdivision of the state shall employ as a law enforcement officer or supervisor of law enforcement officers any person who is ineligible to serve in such capacity under this section.”
Sixth, unlike every other state that has passed nullification laws due to conservative legislators, this libertarian seems intent on protecting the natural right to self-defense possessed by all humans, including undocumented immigrants in New Hampshire. This may also make it more difficult for progressives to oppose the bill: “Definition. In this subdivision, the term “law-abiding citizen” shall mean a person who is not otherwise precluded under state law from possessing a firearm and shall not be construed to include anyone who is not legally present in the United States or the state of New Hampshire.”
Seventh, Mannion cleverly includes a severability clause in the bill, which states that: “If any provision of this subdivision or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such determination shall not affect the provisions or applications of this subdivision that may be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and the provisions of this subdivision are severable.” He understands that it’s possible that after this bill passes into law, a future legislature or judge may repeal or invalidate one part of this legislation. By including this clause, it allows one branch to be cut off without killing the whole tree.
Everyone from the public will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on House Bill 474 on Wednesday, February 8th, at (approximately) 3:15 PM in Representative Hall, which is in the capitol building.
Mannion also introduced HB305, a bill that would limit the instances in which state and local cops could assist federal law enforcement with gun control. Currently, state law allows police in NH to assist the feds with gun control if they suspect that the gun owner has committed any crime. This bill would only allow cooperation with the DC agents if there is suspicion that the gun owner committed a Class A felony (which includes murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, assault resulting in serious bodily injury, theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, sex crimes, and drug crimes). HB305 will have a public hearing in the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee on Friday, February 10th, at (approximately) 10:15 AM in room 202 of the Legislative Office Building.
Additionally, make sure to email the entire committee to urge them to recommend that these bills be passed into law. And then email your Representatives and ask them to support this bill. And if you have time, thank Tom for his courage and dedication to liberty, and maybe throw a few Goldbacks his way.
Sponsored by one freshman and one veteran Representative, House Bill 512 takes the opposite approach to nullify federal gun laws. This bill exempts firearms, accessories, and ammunition manufactured in New Hampshire from federal laws. It accomplishes this by pointing out that the federal government claims it has the power to regulate all of ‘interstate commerce’. Items manufactured in New Hampshire that never leave the state could not possibly be considered to be ‘interstate commerce’ (Wickard v. Filburn’s communist doctrine notwithstanding). Thus, the federal government has no authority over these items. This bill also gives pro-freedom individuals many reasons to be excited:
First, it makes it clear that it applies to any “firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition”. This would make it difficult for anti-gun authoritarians to continue regulating some guns, some accessories, and ‘dangerous’ ammunition.
Second, the bill includes those items that are “manufactured commercially or privately in New Hampshire”, allowing the large gun companies in New Hampshire (Sig Sauer, Ruger, etc.) and private individuals to be protected by this legislation.
Third, the authors of the legislation wisely included a clause clarifying that just because the DC politicians and regulators claim the right to regulate all steel, plastic, and other materials that cross state lines does not mean that they can regulate every end-product that contains any steel or plastic: “The authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce in basic materials shall not include authority to regulate firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition made in New Hampshire from those materials.”
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, Gerhard and Janvrin included actual penalties in this bill so that New Hampshire government officials who violate this law could be deterred or held accountable: “Any public servant of the state of New Hampshire as defined in RSA 640:2 that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule, or regulation of the government of the United States upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in New Hampshire and that remains within the state of New Hampshire shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.” In New Hampshire, class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. The bill creates even harsher penalties for federal employees who violate the law. Agents of the DC Empire who violate this law would be guilty of a class B felony, which could earn them 3.5 to 7 years in prison.
This bill will be heard in the same location as HB474 and is scheduled for 4 PM. Those who cannot attend the public hearing can use remote testimony and emails to the committee to voice their opinions on the bills. A video by The Liberty Block explains remote testimony very simply.
A similar bill was proposed in 2021. Senate Bill 154 passed the Senate and the House, but with different versions. The two chambers could not come to an agreement on the bill’s language in the Committee of Conference, and it died before being sent to Sununu.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.