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Sen. Hassan Speaks About School Safety at Hanover High

  • Hanover High School students find their seats in the school auditorium before an address by Senator Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., second from left, in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Ella Chapman, third from left, met Hassan while in Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Our Lives student rally for stronger gun control in March, and invited her to speak to students on the issue. Mason Winter, left, was involved in planning Hanover High’s student walkout. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oliver Minshall, 17, of Norwich, raises his hand to ask Senator Maggie Hassan how progress can be made on polarizing issues like gun control with the reluctance of legislators to compromise in Washington, during Hassan’s visit to Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High School students Maxfield Larson, second from right, and Kate Henggeler, right, listen as Senator Maggie Hassan answers questions from their fellow students about gun violence and policy during a visit to the school in Hanover, N.H., Tuesday, May 29, 2018. “If I had my druthers, you wouldn’t have to march to feel safe in your own school,” Hassan told the assembly while urging them to stay active and engaged with state and local government. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/29/2018 11:58:55 PM
Modified: 5/30/2018 12:19:08 AM

Hanover — U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., on Tuesday encouraged students at Hanover High School to advocate for safer schools and stricter gun control laws.

Speaking to a packed auditorium at the high school, the first-term senator lamented Congress’ inability to pass gun control legislation in the wake of several high-profile school shootings. But Hassan also expressed optimism that students could change things in upcoming elections.

“What I think might be different in the spring of 2018 is that so many of you and your colleagues, your peers around the country, have themselves said, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” she said.

Hassan told students she supports expanding background checks on gun sales, closing loopholes that allow those accused of domestic abuse to obtain firearms and so-called red-flag laws, which allow police to temporarily take away the guns of people deemed by a judge to be a threat to themselves or others.

She also called for limiting the sale of assault weapons, which she referred to as “guns of war.”

“I share your deep concerns about the epidemic of gun violence that we have seen in our schools throughout our nation,” Hassan said. “No student should have to fear for their lives when they are attending school.”

Hassan’s visit to Hanover was organized by juniors Ella Chapman and Mason Winter, who hoped the senator’s speech would continue to build momentum among student activists seeking gun control reform.

“It’s something a group of us had discussed prior, when we were planning our walkout,” said Winter, a Hanover resident.

More than 250 Hanover High students walked out of class on March 9 to demand action on school safety and gun control measures. The protest also commemorated the lost lives of 17 students and teachers killed during a Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Chapman saw Hassan on a recent trip to Washington D.C., and invited her to talk at the school, she said.

“I was really happy with her response to the questions from our students,” said Chapman, who also lives in Hanover. “I thought our students put a lot of time and thought into the questions that they asked.”

During the roughly hour-long event, students asked Hassan about her position on assault weapons, the state’s concealed carry laws and how to compromise with Republicans on gun control.

“Democrats talk a lot, in particular, about compromise and I’m a Democrat, I’m all for compromise. But how do you compromise with another party who in large part — not all of them —won’t compromise?” asked Oliver Minshall, a 17-year-old student from Norwich.

Minshall pointed to the defeat of the 2013 Manchin-Toomey amendment as a sign of partisanship in Congress. The measure — sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — sought to mandate criminal background checks for most private gun sales.

Hassan acknowledged that gerrymandering and ideological lawmakers in Congress are partially to blame for the gridlock on gun control efforts. But there is hope voters could enact change, she said.

“We need to elect people who will commit to not only hearing the other side out, but actually taking votes that enact compromise,” she said. “That’s hard to do but it is doable.”

Minshall pushed back, though, asking if it’s possible to elect moderates when, in some districts, “even trying to compromise can basically be a political death knell.”

“You see moderate, consensus candidates losing to radicals all over the country, and it could happen anywhere,” he said.

New Hampshire has a tradition of valuing small government and the Second Amendment, but there are still bipartisan victories where Democrats and Republicans work together, Hassan replied. People also appreciate when legislators are candid and able to explain their votes, she said, while pointing to her vetoes of so-called “constitutional carry” bills as such an occasion.

While governor, Hassan twice vetoed bills that would have done away with the requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit in New Hampshire. But Granite State voters continued electing her to office, she said.

“A lot of this is about explaining to constituents what you think, asking them for their opinions, asking them for what solutions they would suggest and often, when we take the time to do that, it is possible to compromise,” Hassan said.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in 2017 signed a bill repealing the concealed carry licensing requirements, calling it “common-sense legislation.”

“This is about making sure that our laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to the ‘live-free-or-die’ spirit,” he said at the bill signing, according to the Concord Monitor.

Hassan’s message resonated with 17-year-old Eamon Worden, who said he agreed with the senator’s stance on gun control and consensus building. “I think she had a good response, which is you have to start at the bottom and work your way up,” said Worden, a Hanover resident. “You can’t just elect the politician who agrees with your views and then expect them to compromise to get stuff done.”

After leaving Hanover High School, Hassan toured the facility and met with employees at Timken Aerospace in Lebanon, where she discussed business and economic development issues, according to a news release.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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