NH House votes to allow creation of gun-free school zones

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s House on Wednesday voted to allow school districts to create gun-free zones over opponents’ arguments that such areas would be a target for potential shooters and subject parents and others who carry guns for protection to further scrutiny.

The bill survived two attempts to postpone it. The Democrat-controlled House passed it, 194-154.

Supporters said the zones ensure a safe learning environment by codifying the federal Gun Free Schools Act in New Hampshire.

“Currently, educators and local law enforcement officials in New Hampshire cannot enforce federal law to keep schools safe,” said bill sponsor Mary Heath, a Democrat from Manchester. She added that it’s time New Hampshire join the 47 other states that prohibit carrying or possessing a firearm on K-12 school property. She said Hawaii and Wyoming also lack the prohibition.

The bill would bar anyone not authorized by the school district from possessing a firearm on school grounds. Anyone dropping off a child could have a gun in their car as long as it’s locked away and not loaded.

Opponents argued the zones wouldn’t work and would make schools a target for criminals and potential shooters. They also questioned whether parents who carried their gun in the car while picking up their children would be searched.

Rep. Tony Lekas, a Republican from Hudson who is a firearms instructor, said he and other parents with a license to carry guns have done so on school property.

“Why do we go to the trouble of doing that? …. We carry out of love, love for our lives, love for our family’s lives and love for the lives of other innocents around us,” he said.

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