New Hampshire has long prided itself on its state motto, “Live free or die,” due to its intent to allow its citizens to live responsibly apart from government interference. And though the freedom to carry a concealed pistol or revolver without a permit has recently been added to the list of freedoms New Hampshire maintains, the University of New Hampshire’s policy of prohibiting firearms on campus remains unchanged.
The freedom to carry a concealed pistol or revolver without a permit came as a result of New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signing Senate Bill 12 into law on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
This concealed carry bill went into effect immediately, including in the college town of Durham. Inquiries have arisen as to how this new law may change campus life or surrounding businesses where students spend their time.
According to a report written by David Brooks of The Concord Monitor in collaboration with the State Police and Sgt. Art Merrigan of the Bow Police Department, “There is no state law that mandates gun-free school zones, so it’s up to each community to decide whether firearms can be brought onto school property or possessed by students.”
Speaking on behalf of the University of New Hampshire’s laws regarding guns on campus, Chief of Police Paul Dean referred to the Administrative Policies of the University System of New Hampshire, which address firearms on the Durham, Concord and Manchester campuses.
According to the online policy manual, “The use and possession of all firearms, other dangerous weapons intended to inflict injury or explosives are prohibited on the Durham and Manchester core campuses of the University of New Hampshire. Law enforcement officers duly authorized to carry such instruments are excepted.”
Although the use and possession of all firearms is prohibited from the University of New Hampshire at Durham campus, private businesses that surround the campus are not excluded. According to Brooks’ report, individual businesses have the right to ban firearms from their property and can ask customers who are carrying firearms, openly or concealed, to leave.
The private businesses of Hannaford, Rite Aid and Town and Campus of downtown Durham refused to comment on whether or not they will ban firearms from their property. The reasoning was to abide by their contract of remaining “apolitical.”
However, students at the University of New Hampshire at Durham, however, had conflicting views on the new law.
“Eliminating the requirement [for a concealed carry permit] was irresponsible and unnecessary,” former president of New Hampshire College Democrats and junior political science major Doug Marino said.
“I think Governor Sununu is doing what he thinks is right for the people of NH [New Hampshire],” co-president of College Republicans and senior history major Scott Myers said. “[He] has listened to his constituents especially in a gun loving state.”
Administrator for the Town of Durham Todd Selig had a few comments to spare regarding how the signing of the concealed carry bill into law will have an impact on the Durham community.
“Our Durham police chief, David Kurz, felt it was important to be able to review applications for those who wanted to carry a concealed weapon,” Selig said. “But the governor has signed the law, and [the town of Durham] has to abide by the framework.”
Selig’s comments refer to the law’s departure away from requiring citizens to apply for a license, which had allowed local police officials to decide if the applicant was “suitable” for one. However, now that the process is optional, local police no longer have control over which applicants can carry a concealed handgun.
Deputy Chief Rene Kelley of the Durham Police stated his personal and professional opinion on the law, though he believes they are irrelevant now that the bill has been signed. However, he does not believe that the new law will pose a danger to the town of Durham, as the law-abiding citizens who would renew their permits year after year are ones that would never pose a problem.
“If there is someone out there who is set on breaking a law, they’re going to carry a firearm with or without a permit,” Kelley said. “The law is the law and we will follow the law.”