To the editor:
Some months ago I was invited to tour Hampstead Central School. One of the things that most impressed me was how difficult entering the building had become. A lot of thought had gone into making this school secure.
Everyone, of course, applauds all legal and reasonable efforts to keep our children safe. But sometimes a sincere desire does not translate into wise policy.
Such is the recent action of the Hampstead School Board declaring our town schools to be “gun-free zones.”
First, this policy will probably be ruled illegal.
As I write this, attorneys specializing in New Hampshire Constitutional law are telling me the Hampstead School Board decree will not withstand legal challenge. We are not a “home rule state.”
In New Hampshire, cities and towns may do only those things the state Legislature allows them to do, and the Legislature has not granted Hampstead or any other municipality the right to establish “gun-free zones” in and around schools.
I wonder how much a lawsuit will cost the town of Hampstead in lawyer bills.
Second, this policy is certainly unwise.
If someone were intent on shooting up a school, Hampstead has now become a good choice.
In other schools, an armed parent, visitor, teacher or other staff member might stop an intended shooter before a horrible deed could be carried out. But in Hampstead the shooter would find a soft and easy target, with the only possible opposition being a school resource officer (policeman), if he or she happened to be present.
A sign placed outside the school saying, “gun-free zone,” might as well read, “easy target.”
By way of comparison, I note how in those states where concealed carry laws have been relaxed, robberies of stores have gone down. The reason? It’s now more likely a robber would be opposed by someone who is armed — and the would-be robbers know it.
When Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill allowing schools to become gun-free zones, the Republicans in the Legislature voted to sustain his veto. We were convinced by the arguments concerning both constitutional and safety concerns. We agreed with those who asserted that gun-free zones would more likely attract rather than deter people wishing to harm our children.
As for me personally, I’m not a gun collector or a hunter. I am not a member of a local gun club or of a national gun organization. When I’m not in Concord I am the pastor of a church in Kingston.
I’m against what the School Board has done because I believe the Second Amendment is the law of the land and enshrines wisdom.
And, I’m against what the School Board has done because I care for the children of my town and want wise, not foolish, policies adopted.
Rep. Mark Pearson
R - Hampstead
Assistant Republican Floor Leader