NH News
5:56 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Senate Shoots Down House Gun Bills

The New Hampshire state Senate rejected several controversial gun bills Wednesday.

All of the proposals originally passed the House.

The move suggests that the Senate’s patience for 2nd Amendment legislation may be about up.

The Senate made brisk work of the so-called gun bills in front of them.

“We spent a grand total of 6 minutes on 5 bills because we want to focus on the issues that are important to the New Hampshire people,” Senate President Peter Bragdon said.

The bills the Senate down include a measure allowing people to carry loaded weapons – including crossbows – in their vehicles and one that permits weapons in public places like college campuses, the Verizon Center and the state psychiatric hospital.

“As far as the Senate is concerned, our number one priority and number two priority are jobs and the economy are spending and taxes,” Bragdon said.

That refrain from Senate leaders has become familiar by now.

And it’s certainly in line with popular opinion in New Hampshire.

A Granite State poll released this week finds a plurality of voters said the most important problem facing the state are jobs and the economy.

The next most popular answer....Republicans in the Legislature.

As one lawmaker said, 2ndAmendment rights didn’t even make the list.

But the issue remains hot for some in the Senate.

“Second amendment rights are very important to me, but I am also a pragmatist,”  Republican Senator Fenton Groen said.

Groen says he knows how to count to 16 – the votes required to override a gubernatorial veto.

And he says no matter how much he would like to see some of these bills pass, he knows they don’t have enough Senate support.

So the Senator has set his sights on one measure that may have a shot...legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Senate President Bragdon says there may be some merit to that bill, but didn’t endorse the plan either.

Given this is an election year, Senate Republicans must walk the tightrope between 2ndAmendment rights activists who vote in primaries and everybody else.