Marchand: 'NRA Gives Me a D ... D for Democrat'

Mar 8, 2018

Steve Marchand, a former Portsmouth mayor, is running for the Democratic Party nomination for governor.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand has a plan to curb gun violence ... just don’t call it gun control, he says.

"Note - I don't call it gun control because that implies I'm trying to take your guns. It's reducing gun violence," he said on The Exchange on Wednesday.

The former Portsmouth mayor recently unveiled seven steps as part of his anti-gun violence plan. It includes strengthening background checks, ensuring a 48-hour waiting period before one can buy a gun, allowing local school districts to ban firearms on school property, and enacting a “red flag” law to identify potential threats.

Second Amendment supporters bird-dogged him in Lebanon when he spoke about it a week ago. He embraced the dialogue. "They said, 'Are you going to take my gun away?' And I said, Have you been arrested for a domestic violence charge in the last 21 days? If you have, then, yes. If you have not, and you have not done these sorts of things, then you have nothing to worry about."

It would be a temporary restriction, obtain by judicial review and with input from a family member and law enforcement, he adds.

While other states have had similar laws, this issue is one of several that places Marchand at odds with first-term Republican incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu. He tells NHPR that he welcomes the contrast.

 “The reality is this: in politics, when I wake up in the morning as a Democrat, the NRA gives me a D ... D for Democrat. And as soon as I open my mouth it turns to F. And my attitude is, once you know that, you can’t worry about it.” 

[READ: New Hampshire GOP Playing Defense Over Gun Debate]

Marchand says a governor must provide leadership and, sometimes, take a stand that may not please everyone. He outlined such philosophy Wednesday before ticking off some of his priorities, from legalizing marijuana during an opioid epidemic to increasing the state's gas tax. In the case of raising the gas tax, he says an increase would help New Hampshire pay for critical improvements to "red list" bridges.

"A gas tax is the least bad way to take care of it," he says.

Marchand supports universal health care and Medicaid expansion. He panned a work requirement for the extended Medicaid program,

“On one level I’m generally leery of the work requirement as this flag to stand next to because there’s an implication - sometimes it’s very explicit - that says that part of the reason people are in the situation they’re in is because they’re lazy,” he said. “That is very rarely the case.”


The problem in New Hampshire is a lack of workforce, he said.


Marchand remains critical of Northern Pass, which Governor Sununu supports. The Democrat looking to challenge the first-term Republican in the general election claims the transmission line would have not lowered electric rates.


State regulators have voted against the project. Eversource, the applicant, has submitted a request for reconsideration.


Marchand, in response to a listener’s question, said he supports the concept of any proposed wind turbine farm offshore.


Is legalizing marijuana a wise thing to consider during an opioid abuse epidemic? Marchand, who supports legalization, disagrees. He said prescription drugs are the true gateway drugs that leads to opoid addiction--not pot.


“It’s actually one of the tools to help deal with the problem,” he says.