New Hampshire lawmakers expand deadly force law

| Thursday, September 15, 2011

Despite warnings from Gov. John Lynch and law enforcement officials, the New Hampshire House overrode a veto to expand the state’s deadly force law. The rule change takes effect in mid November.

New Hampshire law now limits the use of deadly force in 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.

House lawmakers voted 251-111 on Wednesday, Sept. 14, to override the governor’s July veto of a bill that calls for permitting people to use deadly force in self-defense regardless of the location. The Senate previously voted in favor of the action with the required two-thirds majority needed to adopt the bill into law.

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.

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.

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

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