NH Court Upends Rule to Carry a Concealed Weapon

     CONCORD, N.H. (CN) — New Hampshire’s scheme for concealed-carry licenses imposes unfair requirements on nonresident gun owners, the state Supreme Court ruled.
     The decision came in answer to a challenge of rules the Granite State adopted in 2013. New Hampshire wanted nonresident gun owners seeking a concealed-carry permit to show that they already have such a license from their home state.
     Scott Bach took issue with the requirement when the license he held since 2004 expired in 2013.
     Bach does not have a permit in his home state of New Jersey and filed suit alongside the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs.
     Though a judge in Merrimack sided with the state, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed for the gun advocates, saying lawmakers exceeded their authority.
     Bach’s appeal had emphasized that New Hampshire’s gun law, RSA 159:6, already includes a background check to determine that the applicant is “suitable,” and makes no requirement that they already possess a home-state gun license.
     New Jersey meanwhile imposes tougher standards on residents seeking concealed-carry licenses.
     Bach called it unfair for New Hampshire administrative rules to “effectively impose a higher standard than the ‘suitability’ standard contained in RSA 159:6,” as summarized in the ruling.
     New Hampshire’s five-justice court agreed with him unanimously.
     “We cannot disregard the fact that residents of certain states, like New Jersey, may simply be unable to satisfy state requirements for a license that differ from New Hampshire’s statutory requirements,” Associate Justice James Bassett wrote for the court . “Because the rules at issue here effectively incorporate into New Hampshire’s requirements for concealed-carry licenses the requirements established by other states for the issuance of concealed-carry licenses, the rules change the requirements of RSA 159:6, and thus, ‘add to, detract from, or modify the statute which they are intended to implement.'”
     Bach welcomed the June 2 decision. “It is indeed ironic that on the same day the New Jersey Legislature is holding hearings to restrict right to carry as much as possible, our neighbors up north have recognized more rights for New Jerseyans than their own state recognizes at home,” Bach said in a statement.
     A spokesperson from the New Hampshire Department of Public Safety did not return an email seeking comment.
     Bassett’s opinion includes the example of New Jersey’s handgun law, which requires applicants for a handgun permit to demonstrate that they have a legitimate threat they need to protect themselves from or have been attacked previously.
     Though Bach had also challenged New Hampshire’s administrative rule as unconstitutional, the court found that it need not tackle this issue in light of the other finding.

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