Self-Defense Stands in N.H.
Concord — Legislation to repeal New Hampshire’s 2011 “stand your ground” law appears headed for defeat in the Republican-led Senate.
Sen. Andrew Hosmer, a first-term Laconia Democrat, announced this week he’ll vote against the bill when it comes to the Senate floor.
He’s the second Senate Democrat to publicly oppose it, and with at least 11 Republicans expected to vote against the bill, opponents appear to have enough votes to kill it and leave the stand your ground law in place.
“I have heard from many constituents who say that they feel more comfortable under the current law and now have a better understanding of their legal rights and responsibilities as owners of firearms,” Hosmer said in a statement. “I respect their opinions and I trust them to make good decisions when it comes to gun ownership and personal safety.”
The stand your ground law was enacted in 2011 by a then-Republican-controlled Legislature, over a veto from then-Gov. John Lynch. After Democrats retook the House last year, it was one of several new laws they sought to roll back or repeal.
House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, introduced a bill that would return to the state’s pre-2011 self-defense law, which required a person to withdraw from a situation if possible rather than use deadly force, except in their home.
It passed the House last month by a narrow margin, 189-184. But the bill’s prospects were shaky in the Senate, where Republicans have a 13-11 majority.
Eleven of the 13 GOP senators voted for the stand your ground law in 2011, while serving in either the House or Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, doesn’t expect any defections this time around.
“I think that because there haven’t been any problems, our caucus is unified, on the Republican side, that we should allow ... the so-called stand your ground law to remain in place,” Bradley said yesterday.
Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a first-term Dalton Democrat, announced earlier this month that he would oppose the repeal bill. Hosmer followed suit Tuesday.
“I am very confident that we will have the votes necessary to defeat House Bill 135,” Bradley said.
The bill is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard three hours of testimony on it Tuesday. The legislation could come to the Senate floor in early May.