Gun Owners in New Hampshire Press for Scrapping the State’s Background Check System

The Wuhan virus has thrown many things out of whack over the last year. One of the most notable has been the purchase of firearms in states nationwide. When regular gun control measures weren’t enough, states and cities took advantage of the pandemic’s disruption to delay lawful individuals’ right to bear arms.

Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms cited cases in Illinois and Philadelphia where many Americans have seen their rights delayed due to local and state governments refusing to process concealed carry and gun permit applications in a timely manner..

Even pro-gun states such as New Hampshire have also been host to delays. The state’s Gun Line system, which processes background checks for all handgun sales, has been clogged up due to increased demand. At least, that’s what the state’s Department of Safety reports. The Department of Safety presides over the Gun Line and it claims that changes to the system have been made and they’re optimistic that potential gun buyers won’t have to wait weeks or months on end for their background checks to be processed. 

But for gun owners in the Granite State, this is not satisfactory. In their view, New Hampshire state functionaries are incapable of carrying out the checks in a timely manner, thus they shouldn’t be involved in this process to begin with.

The New Hampshire Journal reported the following:

Alan Rice, state director for Gun Owners of America, said in a recent news release that “the governor can easily issue an executive order telling the state police to cease to conduct these checks. If that happens, by default, all checks will be conducted by the FBI.” The New Hampshire Department of Safety acts as a point of contact for the federal government’s NICS as allowed by state law.

“Gun owners will face fewer delays if they only have to clear one set of hurdles (at the federal level), as opposed to also forcing gun buyers to submit to state-mandated background checks, which then add another level of potential delays,” says Rice.

Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler tells NHJournal Rice’s idea is bad.

“The gun line has been a sore spot for gun owners all year, but with Republicans in charge, we can fix the problems permanently instead of giving more control to the federal government. We should be going the other direction, taking more control back from the feds,” he says.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t keep this in state. Gun policy and legislation should be decided here in the Granite State, not handed over to a Biden administration that has openly campaigned on taking away our Second Amendment rights,” Wheeler says, adding he’s been working with the Attorney General and Department of Safety to ensure the gun line works as intended with minimal delays.

This dilemma could be resolved in the next few weeks by a new bill that State Senator Bob Giuda recently filed. The New Hampshire Journal reported that Guida’s legislation would scrap the Gun Line and use the NICS system instead to cover all retail firearms transactions such as handgun purchases:

Attorney Sean List says he drafted the language for Senator Giuda and the bill is something “every gun dealer in the state supports.” List, who represents several federal firearms licensees and individuals with firearm relating issues throughout the state, tells NHJournal that the delays at the gun line “has come at a great cost to the economic wellbeing of dealers and the constitutional rights of firearm owners and purchasers.”

“In short: the Gun Line still enters information into the federal system while delaying and denying the rights of purchasers without providing due process. Even worse, they are causing people to wait many months, frequently more than six, to have their firearms returned at the expiration of court proceedings. We are currently paying for a broken system and an extra layer of government involvement when the FBI does the checks efficiently and is already funded to do so with our federal tax dollars,” List says on a New Hampshire Firearms Coalition Facebook Post regarding the gun line proposal.

Attorney Sean List argues that “when background checks result in denials, the gun line has made it nearly impossible to appeal. They simply fail to respond to people seeking appeals, even though federal law requires them to do so.” On top of that, he stated that the Gun Line has “on multiple occasions, failed to timely deny firearms purchases to prohibited individuals.” 

For a state with such a pro-gun reputation like New Hampshire, it’s surprising it still has a background check system in place. Many forget that New Hampshire passed Constitutional Carry in 2017. It needs to live up to its pro-Second Amendment pedigree by scrapping this system.