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Mass Confusion In The NH House Over ‘Background Check’ Bill

NH House votes FOR Background Checks bill before voting against it, amid confusion of NRA Lobby misdirection

Or, how do you vote down a policy you passed twice and refused to table three times?

GunCONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted today 174-166 to support an amended version of HB 1589, a background checks bill that would expand criminal background checks to all commercial gun sales—including online sales. However, following the initial vote, opponents to the bill introduced several motions to stop the bill and an amendment to send it to a destined-to-fail study committee, absent community stakeholders. In the confusion that followed, the New Hampshire House surprisingly and ultimately failed to pass any version of the bill – despite previous roll call votes expressing clear support from the majority of State Representatives.

Below is a timeline of the House discussion and votes. It paints a very different story than the final vote outcome makes it appear.*

NH House Refuses to Table Criminal Background Checks Bill: House votes 163-165 against tabling HB 1589

NH House Supports Criminal Background Checks Bill: House votes to support HB 1589, as amended, by a strong vote of 174-166

NH House Supports Criminal Background Checks Study Committee: Amendment introduced to replace HB 1589 with a study committee; House votes 177-175 to adopt study committee motion

NH House Refuses to Table Criminal Background Checks Bill: Motion introduced to table study committee motion, possibly to allow for an amended version of it; NH House votes 173-183 against tabling study committee version of the bill

NH House Refuses to Indefinitely Postpone Criminal Background Checks Bill: Motion made to indefinitely postpone HB 1589 for the rest of the session; House rejects motion by vote of 133-226

Pro-Public Safety Legislators Reject Study Committee After Learning It Is Designed to Fail: After learning that the study committee would be stacked with anti-background check legislators – essentially making it designed to fail – House votes 165-195 against study committee motion

After the slanted study committee motion failed – and in the absence of another amendment on the floor – a motion to vote the bill Inexpedient to Legislate was introduced. In a rapid and confusing series of votes, with many State Representatives mistakenly believing they had run out of other options, the NH House of Representatives ultimately and surprisingly voted 242-118 to end the bill – despite voting several times to support earlier versions of it and refusing motions to table.

“The final vote was abrupt and surprising given several roll call and division majority votes in support of criminal background checks,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “There was a lot of confusion on the floor about the order of the votes, and immediately after the final vote a member even questioned the next step for the bill.”

“We applaud the State Representatives who stood by the 89 percent of Granite Staters who support criminal background checks. While the final vote was disappointing, the earlier votes demonstrate strong support in the New Hampshire House to pass a background checks bill. Granite State Progress is committed to reducing gun violence in our communities and improving public safety. All of the votes gave us a list of elected officials to work on as we consider next steps.”


* For reference: In the NH House, legislators vote OTP – Ought to Pass or ITL – Inexpedient to legislate on committee amendments, before voting OTP or ITL on the bill itself. In the case of HB 1589, the committee amendment replaced the entire bill. Thus, support for the committee recommendation indicated support for HB 1589, as a whole, as well.




About Granite State Progress

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.
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