By John Toole
---- — CONCORD The New Hampshire House yesterday killed an expansion of background checks on gun sales.
House Bill 1589 went down on a 242-118 vote.
"Bad day for the gun grabbers," said Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, via his Twitter account from the Statehouse.
Baldasaro credited efforts of the House Republican Alliance in defeating the bill.
He said Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution had prevailed.
"Leave law-abiding citizens alone and go after criminals," Baldasaro tweeted.
Rep. Dan Tamburello, R-Londonderry, said it was a good day for law-abiding gun owners.
"Granite Staters can rest assured that there are some legislators in Concord who care about their rights, their privacy and their freedoms," Tamburello said in a statement on behalf of the House Republican Alliance.
Christopher Smart of Derry, state coordinator for Gun Rights Across America, said he was pleased with the vote.
"New Hampshire does not need bills like that," Smart said.
Gun control advocates had pushed for approval and criticized some pro-gun lawmakers for public statements of concern they made about the bill before it came up for debate.
"An overwhelming, bipartisan 89 percent of Granite Staters support background checks including the majority of gun owners and (National Rifle Association) members," Granite State Progress executive director Zandra Rice Hawkins said in a press release supporting the bill. "Requiring a background check every time a gun is sold is effective in keeping guns out of the hands of those with a criminal record."
The House overturned the recommendation of its Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, which split 10-8 in support of the bill.
Rep. Edward Butler, D-Hart's Location, in a report for the committee, told House lawmakers the bill would extend background checks beyond licensed dealers.
"This will capture private sales at gun shows, flea markets and any other commercial sale of a gun or guns within our borders," Butler wrote.
Rep. Laura Jones, R-Rochester, in a minority report from the committee, told lawmakers there was significant opposition during a public hearing and work sessions.
"Even out-of-state residents that were brought in to testify acknowledged that these measures would not have prevented the violence that took place in Newtown, Conn.," Jones wrote.
Matthew Murphy, executive director for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, said common sense prevailed in the debate.
"This vote was a victory for countless New Hampshire residents who actively engaged their legislators in opposition to this bill in recent weeks," Murphy said.