Two articles in two local papers provide two takes on the two-to-one vote that defeated “universal background checks” or private sales ban in New Hampshire last week. Depending on whether you read seacoastonline or the unionleader.com, the bill went down to defeat because of confusing parliamentary wrangling (the house is controlled by Democrats 215-177) or because the Democrats wanted the bill to go down, but didn’t want their names attached to its defeat . . .

From seacoastonline:

HB 1589 would have required most private sellers to conduct background checks through federally licensed dealers, using a system already in place for dealer sales.

Breaking the law would have been a misdemeanor charge. An exception would have been made for noncommercial private sales between individuals not prohibited by federal law from buying a gun. 
The final vote came after a long and confusing debate that lawmakers said left many shaking their heads.

I was a little confused about what a “commercial” private sale would be, so I took a look at the bill.

V. “Transfer” means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person, either with or without consideration of payment or promise of payment, and includes gifts and loans.

159-E:2 Firearms Sales to be Conducted Through a Licensed Dealer.
I. No person shall sell or transfer a firearm unless:

(a) The person is a licensed firearms dealer; or

(b) The purchaser or transferee is a licensed firearms dealer; or

(c) The requirements of paragraph II are met.

II. If neither party to a prospective firearms transaction is a licensed firearms dealer, the parties to the transaction shall complete the sale or transfer through a licensed firearms dealer as follows:

There are exceptions for transfers among immediate family, those done at a range, while hunting or during a competition. I guess everything else is considered a “commercial private sale,” but there might have been an amendment to the bill that wasn’t shown on the legislative web site.

In contrast, Union Leader opined that the bill failed because the Democrats wanted it to fail. They just didn’t want their names attached to the failure. It’s not hard to see why. Consider the attacks on Senator Kelly Ayotte after the she refused to vote for the flawed Manchin-Toomey “universal background check” bill, even though she voted for a version that couldn’t have been used to impose a registration system. From the Union Leader:

Last Wednesday’s House votes on House Bill 1589, to require background checks for almost all guns sales in New Hampshire, revealed that New Hampshire Democrats are divided about the utility of universal background checks. Despite the party’s official bluster about the need for such legislation, House Democrats would not stand up to have the final vote on the bill recorded. Dozens of them wanted to vote against it, but only if they could do so secretly.

Sure, it’s possible for legislators to be confused by parliamentary procedure. And it’s a strength of any leadership to use parliamentary rules to their advantage and to the disadvantage of their opponents. But it seems less likely that those in leadership positions didn’t realize what was happening and were as confused as those who where pushing for a ban on nearly all private sales.

New Hampshire is a gun-friendly state with extremely low rates of homicide. Neighboring states have much more onerous gun laws and higher homicide rates. Homicide is mostly a matter of culture rather than the availability of weapons. My money is on the Union Leader’s take. The Democrat leadership in the New Hampshire House were only too happy to have this whole issue just go away.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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18 Responses to Two Takes on Two-to-One Gun Control Defeat in New Hampshire

  1. Democrats didn’t want their names associated with the bill’s defeat? What is it about politicians (on both sides) that these parasites never evolved a spine?

    • And that differs from the latest Republican abstinence on the national debt how?

      Can’t really blame someone who bucks the Party Line in a way that makes it difficult for the party to exact vengeance.

      They’ll likely be there for a continuing while to not control guns.

      What constitutes a Democrat in New Jesey or Illinois ain’t quite the same as one from New Hampshire or Kansas.

  2. What’s the opposite of a catch 22?

    It’s covering their bases is what it seems to me. If the country/ area turns pro-gun, they can say, “Well, I voted against it!” If it goes the other way, they can complain how the “other” dems failed you. Now if something happens in the future they can say, “It’s because universal background checks weren’t in play.” And if it doesn’t it can be used for them. It’s about positioning.

  3. Wow, that title is darn confusing. Maybe it should be “Two Perspectives….”

    Also, “Two articles in two local papers provide two takes on the two-to-one…” might be better comprehended as “Two articles in two local papers provide two PERSPECTIVES on the two-to-one…”

    Grammar nazi signing off.

  4. Dems are dumb, but not stupid. They are up for re-election too. They know NH is a very pro-gun state, and they didn’t want to kick the hornets nest.
    Roaches scatter too when the lights are turned on. If momentum shifts in their favor, they’ll vote for it in a heartbeat.

  5. I believe the full text can be found here: http://www.bussjaeger.us/HB1589_amendment.txt

    “Commercial sale” means a sale, transfer, or exchange of a firearm that takes place at, or on the curtilage of, a gun show or pursuant to an offer to sell or buy a firearm that took place at a gun show, or pursuant to an advertisement, posting, listing, or display.

    Basically the same as M-T, if it wasn’t purely word-of-mouth, it is ‘commercial’. If it was advertised in ANY way, it is commercial.

  6. Can you imagine living that way? Basing your every remark and move on how others will receive it? Never being able to express yourself freely for fear of the political ramifications? Constantly selling out as a way of life? How do politicians live beyond 50, anyway? The internal strain must be immense. My ass bleeds for them.

  7. The Union Leader is published in Manchester, the state’s largest city. It’s owner is unabashedly Republican and regularly takes Democrats to task in the editorial pages. I don’t know much about the Seacoast paper, but given that area of the state is full of rich, entitlement snobs, I would not be surprised that it takes more of a pro-Dem slant. From what I understand, the anti-gun bill was advanced by Democrats who originally moved up from Massachusetts and New York and apparently wanted to bring their vision of a gun free paradise north with them. The native Dems understand the passion with firearms in NH and likely were just as happy to see this one go down in flames.

    • Jim, you are correct about the Seacoast paper being liberal. They spout all the liberal talking points including palm trees growing in Portsmouth due to globull warming. The surrounding towns of Rye, North Hampton, and New Castle are ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th in wealth.

  8. The New Hampshire House has 424 members.

    From the vote totals, it looks like 64 legislators didn’t cast a yea or nay

    Maybe the weather kept them away. [wink, nudge]

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