New Hampshire Senate approves expanded deadly force law

| Thursday, September 08, 2011

The rules in New Hampshire on the use of deadly force in self defense could soon be changed. A bill to expand the state’s deadly force law is once again drawing consideration in Concord.

New Hampshire law now limits the use of deadly force to defense of oneself or another person if they are in their home or on the surrounding land, and requires a person who is faced with deadly force outside the home to retreat if it can be done safely.

In July, Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill that calls for permitting people to use deadly force in self-defense regardless of the location.

Specifically, SB88 expands the definition of where a person is justified using deadly force in self-defense to include areas outside a person’s home. It also would prohibit an attacker, or attacker’s family, from suing a person who responds with deadly force.

About 30 states have some form of Castle Doctrine, or “Stand your Ground” law.

The New Hampshire Senate voted 17-7 on Wednesday, Sept. 7, to override the governor’s veto. The bill – SB88 – now moves to the House for consideration.

A two-thirds margin is required for an override. House lawmakers approved the bill during the regular session by a 283-89 margin.

Lynch issued a statement following the Senate vote that he is disappointed that lawmakers did not listen to the concerns of law enforcement.

“Law enforcement officials from across New Hampshire stood united in warning about the dangers of this bill and how it would compromise safety by emboldening gangs and criminal activity,” Lynch stated. “Yet lawmakers disregarded the warnings of law enforcement that this bill could compromise public safety.”

Supporters say the bill simply ensures that lawful gun owners can defend themselves.

“Having the right to carry a firearm, but then saying that you can’t use it to defend yourself when your life is in danger is absurd,” House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mount Vernon, said in a previous statement.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Hampshire, click here.

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