Gun laws are receiving much press across the country, but there are important bills that could affect residents of New Hampshire specifically. According to an article in New Hampshire Public News, perhaps the most significant of these is the attempted repeal of New Hampshire's “stand your ground” law, which has incited hot debate in Concord.
What is a ‘Stand Your Ground' Law?
These laws are in force across more than twenty states, and they eliminate the requirement for people to “attempt to retreat” before they use deadly force in self-defense outside their homes. If the law were repealed in New Hampshire, “people would again have a duty to retreat before using deadly force to defend themselves or others.” In other words, these laws give people the right to “shoot first” before attempting to get away from an attacker. Significantly, the “stand your ground” law in our state also grants immunity to anyone who injures bystanders while they're using deadly force as permitted by the law.
These laws are distinct from ones that permit you to defend yourself in your home, a right that most states readily allow.
Many of these laws have come into question in the past year since the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. According to the Tampa Bay Times, 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed by a member of the neighborhood watch who claimed that he was in fear for his life. After the Martin shooting, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created a campaign, “Second Chance on Shoot First,” intended to promote the repeal of many of these “stand your ground” laws across the country.
Who Would the Repeal Affect?
The “stand your ground” repeal is proposed in House Bill 135, and it is sponsored by a concerned legislative panel in the state. However, other representatives and advocates are more anxious by the negative effects of repealing the law.
Laurie Sanborn, the House Republican policy leader, worries that a repeal of New Hampshire's “stand your ground” law would imply that women aren't free to defend themselves outside their homes, or that parents can't defend their children. She argues that “it's telling the law-abiding people of this state they don't deserve the right of personal defense.”
Other advocates of “stand your ground” laws insist that they deter violence—if a criminal knows that a victim is permitted to “shoot first,” he may not attack. However, Mark Hoekstra, an economist at Texas A&M, indicates that murder rates actually rose in states with “stand your ground” laws. With such statistics, Hoekstra suggested that New Hampshire would see “one or two additional homicides annually.”
Recent News Surrounding HB 135
While the New Hampshire Public News seemed confident that “stand your ground” will remain good law in our state, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported increased support for the repeal. The article indicated that the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted the that House repeal “stand your ground.” The bill is set to go before the full House, where members of the Criminal Justice Committee predict that “it will be the subject of intense debate.”
If you have questions about your rights, contact an experienced attorney today.