By John Toole
---- — CONCORD — The House narrowly voted this morning to require people to consider retreating before using deadly force for self-defense in public places.
An amended version of House Bill 135 passed, 189-185, after nearly two hours of debate.
Along the way, lawmakers rejected an amendent that would have made the state liable for lost income of people who failed to retreat and lost their lives.
The House also balked at an amendment requiring the state to pay legal costs for anyone prosecuted, but found not guilty, for failing to retreat.
Proponents argued the retreat provision merely returns the state to self-defense law in force for 35 years in the state without problems.
Opponents argued criminals would have the upper hand against citizens.
"HB 135 is declaring open season on women," said Rep. Lenette Peterson, R-Merrimack.
Rep. Richard Burchell, R-Gilmanton Iron Works, argued against changing the law, revised last year to let people "stand your ground" for self-defense.
"Why should we? In so doing, we will endanger our law-abiding citizenry," Burchell said.
The House Republican Alliance wasn't happy with the vote.
"The passage of this politically motivated bill strips away the rights of citizens to stand their ground and protect themselves, others and their property if threatened where ever they have a right to be," said Rep. Al Baldasaro, HRA co-chairman.