CONCORD, N.H. – Even though the legislative submission deadline had concluded for the upcoming 2024 New Hampshire General Court session, a bipartisan bill addressing firearm possession by mentally ill people received a late drafting request on Tuesday.
New Hampshire House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee members Terry Roy (R-Deerfield) and David Meuse (D-Portsmouth) released a joint statement about the bill, which would address involuntary mental health commitments and firearms purchases.
Roy noted that there are many veterans who now likely suffer from PTSD and other mental illnesses who may avoid seeking help out of fear of losing their firearms. The legislation was proposed in part due to the recent tragedy at New Hampshire Hospital.
“This important bipartisan legislation will bridge a gap that exists in current law regarding involuntary mental health commitments and firearms purchases. While federal law makes it unlawful for someone with dangerous mental health challenges to purchase or possess a firearm, it provides no mechanism to enforce it,” said Roy, who chairs the committee as well. “This is an important piece of legislation that would ensure two things. First, those who are involuntarily committed to psychiatric care will no longer be able to purchase firearms until they get the care they need. Second, once that occurs and it is determined they are no longer a danger to themselves or others, it will provide a pathway to ensure their rights are restored.”
“It is worthy of note, that we recognize the stigma that is all too often attached to mental illness and that our goal with this law is not to make things worse” said Meuse. “I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues, victims of gun violence, and mental health providers to draft language that protects the general welfare without further stigmatizing mental health conditions or violating individual freedom, as 40 other states across the country have done.”
The House will begin its 2024 session in early January.