Mental Health Reporting in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

There is no law in New Hampshire requiring the reporting of mental health information to NICS. New Hampshire law allows for the release of confidential patient information when provided for “by the need to protect the welfare of the individual or the public interest.”2 However, as of October 2011, New Hampshire had submitted only two mental health records to the NICS Index.3

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the New Hampshire Background Checks section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally.

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 332-I:2(I)(e). []
  3. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Fatal Gaps: How Missing Records in the Federal Background Check System Put Guns in the Hands of Killers 44 (Nov. 2011), available at http://prtl-sitea-maigs.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/maig_mimeo_revb.pdf. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire provides no minimum age for the possession of firearms, and does not penalize sale of a long gun to a minor, although federal age restrictions still apply. New Hampshire prohibits any person from transferring a handgun to a person under the age of 18,1 and transferring ammunition of any kind to a person under the age of 16, other than to his or her own child, grandchild, or ward.2

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:12. This section does not apply to: 1) parents, grandparents, guardians, administrators and executors giving a revolver to their children, wards, or heirs to an estate; 2) firearm safety instructors during a training program, with the parent or guardian’s permission; 3) licensed hunters accompanying a minor while lawfully hunting; and 4) individuals supervising minors using firearms during a lawful shooting event or activity. Id. []
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 644:15. This prohibition does not apply to: 1) individuals instructing children in the safe use of firearms during a supervised firearms training program, if the child’s parent or guardian has granted permission for the child to participate in the program; 2) licensed hunters accompanying children while lawfully taking wildlife; and 3) individuals supervising children using firearms during a lawful shooting event or activity. Id. []

Disarming Prohibited Persons in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire has no law requiring the removal of firearms from persons who have become prohibited from possessing them, except when a court issues a domestic violence protective order. For laws governing the procedure for surrender of firearms by a person subject to a protective order, see the section entitled Domestic Violence and Firearms in New Hampshire.

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:26(I) provides in part:

To the extent consistent with federal law, the state of New Hampshire shall have authority and jurisdiction over the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives in the state. Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, no ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision may regulate the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, or firearms supplies in the state.

Section 159:26 does not affect a local government’s right to adopt non-discriminatory zoning ordinances.1 Pursuant to section 159:26(II), local ordinances that relate to the “sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearm components, ammunition, firearms supplies or knives” became void on July 18, 2003.

There is no case law interpreting this statute.

In State v. Jenkins, 162 A.2d 613 (N.H. 1960), the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned a town by-law that prohibited the discharge of a firearm in the entire town except on private property with written permission of the owner. The court held that the by-law was inconsistent with state hunting statutes that allowed the discharge of firearms on certain other properties at certain times of year.2

The ability of local governments in New Hampshire to impose limits on noise and noise pollution from shooting ranges is limited by New Hampshire Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 159-B:1-159-B:8. See the Immunity Statutes section of the New Hampshire state page for further information.

  1. Section 159:26(I). []
  2. Id. at 614. []

Guns in Vehicles in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire prohibits the carrying of a loaded handgun in any vehicle without a valid license to carry a loaded handgun.1 New Hampshire law also prohibits the carrying of a loaded firearm in:

  • An off highway recreational vehicle or a trailer towed by an off highway recreational vehicle;2 or
  • A snowmobile or a trailer towed by a snowmobile.3

However, neither of these prohibitions applies to handguns carried under a license to carry a loaded handgun.

Having or carrying a loaded rifle or loaded shotgun in or on a motor vehicle, off highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile, or aircraft, whether moving or stationary, or a moving boat is also prohibited.4

  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:4. This provision does not apply to the regular and ordinary transportation of handguns as merchandise. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:5. []
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 215-A:20. []
  3. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 215-C:35. []
  4. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 207:7. This restriction also applies to rifles and shotguns with a cartridge in a magazine or clip attached to the gun. Id. []

Guns in Schools in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire has no law prohibiting persons who are not pupils from possessing firearms in a school zone. Any pupil who brings or possesses a firearm – concealed or otherwise – in a safe school zone (any school property or school bus) without written authorization from the superintendent shall be expelled from school by the local school board for at least 12 months.1

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 193:13(II). New Hampshire law defines “safe school zone” to include any school property or school bus. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 193-D:1(II). []

Other Location Restrictions in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire prohibits any person, even the holder of a license to carry a loaded handgun, from carrying any firearm into a courtroom or area used by a court.1

New Hampshire has no laws prohibiting firearms in the following places, although administrative regulations may apply:

  • Parks;
  • Hospitals;
  • Bars and other places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served;
  • Places of worship;
  • Sports arenas;
  • Gambling facilities; or
  • Polling places.
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:19. []

Gun Shows in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

New Hampshire does not specifically regulate gun shows. See also the New Hampshire Private Sales section for state laws that apply at gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Private Sales in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

New Hampshire has no law requiring a background check prior to transfer of a firearm when the seller is not a licensed dealer (a “private sale”). New Hampshire law explicitly allows a person who is not licensed to sell handguns and who is not engaged in the business of selling handguns to sell a handgun to any person who is known to her or him or who is licensed to sell handguns.1 No person may transfer a handgun to a convicted felon.2 New Hampshire has no other laws regarding private sales of firearms.

See the section entitled Firearms Trafficking for additional laws that limit private sales of firearms.

  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:14. []
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:7. []

Dealer Regulations in New Hampshire

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

New Hampshire prohibits any person from selling, advertising or exposing for sale, or having in one’s possession with intent to sell, a handgun without a local license to sell handguns.1 However, a person who is not licensed to sell handguns and not engaged in the business of selling handguns may sell a handgun to a person who is personally known to her or him or who is licensed to sell handguns.2 A license to sell a handgun may be obtained from the selectmen of a town or the chief of police of a city, and remains in effect for up to three years.3 Licensees must:

  • Conduct business in the building designated in the license or at certain sporting shows or collectors’ meetings;
  • Display the license on the premises, where it can be easily read; and
  • Deliver firearms only to purchasers who provide evidence of their identity or to purchasers personally known to the licensee.4

Failure to comply with these conditions may result in revocation of the license to sell handguns.5

Licensees must conspicuously post at each purchase counter the following warning in bold type not less than one inch in height: “IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE OWNER OF A FIREARM SEEK FIREARM SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS FROM A CERTIFIED FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR AND KEEP FIREARMS SECURED FROM UNAUTHORIZED USE.”6

New Hampshire does not require sellers of rifles or shotguns to obtain a license.

For information about the laws:

  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:10. []
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:14. []
  3. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:8. []
  4. Id. []
  5. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 159:8, 159:8-b. []
  6. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 650-C:1(VII). []