CONCORD — State Sen. Jeb Bradley is optimistic a bill he's sponsoring will prevent the state from having to enforce possible presidential orders regulating ownership of guns.
The bill is SB 154. On April 1, Senate Republicans passed it 14-10.
"If there are executive orders issued from President Biden restricting an individual's ability to keep and bear arms, this bill would make it clear that the state of New Hampshire would not enforce any such orders issued after Jan. 20, 2021," Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) said in a press release issued by Senate Republicans.
"SB 154 will protect the rights of New Hampshire citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones," the release said.
"New Hampshire is among the safest states in America because we have effective law enforcement and allow people to exercise their constitutional rights under the Second Amendment."
An amended analysis of the bill filed in the N.H. Senate says: "This bill prohibits any person acting under color of state law or as an agent of the state from taking any action, expending any funds, or exercising any power of the state of New Hampshire to enforce any Executive Order of the President of the United States which has the purpose or effect of restricting or regulating the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
In a Tuesday phone interview with the Sun, Bradley said there's "talk" of a gun registry and banning the ownership of certain long guns.
However, although Joe Biden talked tough on guns during his 2020 campaign, as president, despite several mass shootings recently, he has not issued any executive orders pertaining to the Second Amendment.
In a column "Is Biden missing his chance on guns?" published April 3 in The New York Times, "On Politics" writer Lisa Lerer wrote: "On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Biden proposed the most expansive gun control platform of any presidential candidate in history, promising to reinstate the assault weapons ban, institute a voluntary gun buyback program and send a bill to Congress on his first day in office repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers and closing background-check loopholes.
"Yet 73 days into his presidency, with five mass shootings and more than 10,000 gun violence deaths having already occurred this year, Mr. Biden is approaching the issue with far less urgency," Lerer said.
But one can't be too sure, and Bradley feels the House is likely to pass his bill and Gov. Chris Sununu is likely to sign it. "I think it has a pretty good chance," said Bradley.
Mount Washington Valley Republicans Chair Steven Steiner is also enthusiastic about the bill's prospects.
"I take my hat off to Jeb Bradley for protecting our rights and to the governor because he is going to sign it," said Steiner.
The bill would not completely cancel the executive orders in New Hampshire. What it would do, said Bradley, is make federal agencies enforce the executive orders.
The bill does not address federal laws passed by Congress. He said new gun laws are unlikely to pass because of the divided Congress.
Bradley said legal experts say his bill is on "solid ground."
The Democrats have another opinion.
“SB 154 is an unconstitutional bill that sets a dangerous precedent for New Hampshire," said Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester). "This is nothing more than a political stunt seeking to further divide Granite Staters over a problem that does not exist.”
Asked about the next steps, Bradley said the earliest the bill could be taken up by the House is next week but COVID might slow things down.
No dates were posted to the New Hampshire General Court website as of Wednesday.
"The pandemic has affected how the House works, because it's just so much harder to have 400 people on Zoom and vote than in the Senate (which has 24 members," said Bradley.
The public has been receptive, said Bradley, adding people have told him they have seen a lot of support for his gun bill on social media.
"I don't monitor social media that much, but people have told me it's off the charts in terms of clicks," said Bradley.