Written by Concord, N.H. Patch editor Tony Schinella.
Two family members of children lost during the Sandy Hook school shooting came to Concord on Jan. 21, to testify before a committee promoting criminal background checks in New Hampshire.
The bill, HB 1589, requires every gun sale go through a licensed dealer and then, a background check process through the National Crime Information Center, closing a loophole that advocates say, are putting illegal guns onto the street to kill people.
Other exceptions were included in the bill to make it, according to the sponsors, “unique to New Hampshire,” including provisions excluding antique firearms, transfers or sales between family members, or transfers or sales between police officers and those who work in public safety capacity. It doesn’t create a registration process, according to the bill's sponsors.
Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley of Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit organization created in the wake of the Newtown school shooting in December 2012, that took the lives of students and educators, spoke at the Legislative Office Building to speak in support of the bill.
Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, in the incident, said he was in the state to inform legislators that he believed that bill would “save lives” and saying that it wasn’t new legislation but changes to current regulations.
“Having a background check accompany only some sales is like fixing only part of the hole in your boat,” he said.
Hockley, who lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, said that there was nothing that could prepare anyone for the death of a child. She said the death of her son made her look at the issue of gun violence differently, especially after years of incidents across the United States in recent years.
“I was like so many other people, part of the silent majority in our country,” she said. “I would hear about tragic acts of violence in the news, think how awful it was, and then look away and return to my busy, daily life.”
Both Barden and Hockley, who were holding back tears at times during their remarks, said they are working with Sandy Hook Promise in an effort to address the causes of gun violence, including safety, healthcare, mental health, social isolation, and community connectedness.
Sponsors of the bill, state Rep. E. Elaine Andrews-Ahearn, D-Hampton Falls, and state Sen. David Pierce, D-Etna, also spoke in favor of the bill, adding that background checks were a common sense issue and the bill wouldn’t be an impediment of 2nd Amendment rights.
Some gun ownership advocates, however, are opposed to the bill, and held a rally at the Statehouse on Jan. 19.