Seacoast Media Group recently published an editorial critical of N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu’s vetoing of three firearm bills (Sununu should follow Ohio gov.’s lead on guns). Disappointed with the vetoes, SMG opined Sununu was failing “to even take modest measures to protect people of our state from gun violence.”
The SMG editorial board’s position isn’t surprising, but it is also not grounded in reality.
It is not my intent to relitigate the three bills in question, which are HB109, HB 514 and HB 564. However, they are anything but modest. HB109 is confusing and exaggerates the misunderstanding of the so called “gun show loophole.” HB514 places a burden on law-abiding citizens, based on inconsistent or inconclusive evidence that waiting periods have a significant impact on reducing suicides. HB564 will create confusion and chaos, and criminals have already proven they don’t care if their target is a “gun free zone.”
However, in writing the editorial, the SMG board hides behind the recent tragedies at El Paso and Dayton in an effort to provide a launching point to attack the governor on these vetoes. I know they won’t see it that way, but I also understand they did this to invoke an emotional response. We should not ignore our emotions, especially on this issue. Nor should they be the primary rudder that guides our ship through difficult topics such as this one.
The SMG board just wanted to “do something,” even if that “something” would have made little to no difference. But it was also unfair and less than honest to try to entwine the vetoing of these three bills to the actions of two cold-blooded killers who committed their crimes hundreds of miles from New Hampshire.
Missing from the editorial is one important detail. By simply applying the principle of causation, we find the laws that were vetoed had no connection to the types of tragedies interwoven into the editorial. These laws would not have stopped the shootings in either of these cities, neither by enforcement (after the fact) or by “proactive” application.
The SMG editorial board also applauded Ohio Gov. DeWine’s “17-point plan.” Clearly in a “Kautilya” moment (the enemy of my enemy is my friend), SMG aligned itself with a person (in Gov. DeWine) with whom they would not find any other common policy bond outside of this one instance. Let us not forget, just a few weeks before this 17-point plan, DeWine signed into law the “Heartbeat Abortion Bill.” Truth be told, it is likely few on the SMG editorial board would support that law, even though it actually saves children.
I read DeWine’s plan, and there are some key provisions worth discussing:
Seven of the points increase penalties for laws already on the books, which does nothing to stop attacks, and merely enacts harsher consequences.
Four points provide funding for community outreach-education programs (such as a tip line, community safety education, social media monitoring and safe school incentives). However, passage may depend on the finale language. It is possible that some of these actions may create a “doxxing” type of atmosphere, false accusations and an unconstitutional restriction of due process.
Four other points tackle mental illness diagnosis and treatment.
Two measures are a direct assault on due process (red flag provision) and drastically affect the private transfer of firearms between individuals who are legally eligible to own such firearms (entirely eliminating the private sale of firearms). It should be noted DeWine’s plan does not include a waiting period.
Worse still for Ohio is that the state is, in DeWine’s own words, “dangerously deficient” in entering pertinent crime data into the background system. According to Cleveland.com, “Of the 500,000 or so warrants that were open in Ohio as of March, only about 217,000 of them were in Ohio’s law-enforcement database system, and only about 18,000 were in the federal background-check system.” This includes protection orders. Ohio is not leading. It is trying to catch up with states like New Hampshire.
We can’t even enforce all the firearms laws on the books now, or mandate appropriate data be entered into the background systems we currently have. So, what is the typical “do something” response, “let’s just create a few more laws.” Sununu was right when he said, “these bills would not solve our national issues nor would they prevent evil individuals from doing harm.”
The fascinating thing about SMG’s suggestion that “Sununu should follow Ohio gov.’s lead on guns,” is that New Hampshire under Gov. Sununu’s leadership has already been working on implementing measures that represent more than half of the recommendations being considered (not enacted) by Ohio.
So contrary to the absurd suggestion that Sununu was “doing nothing,” he has in fact been leading on school safety, community outreach and addressing the need for stronger mental health services. Aside from the reality that Sununu is “doing something,” the “doing nothing” statement rings hollow and is perplexing considering Gov. Sununu is chief executive of one of the safest states in the Union (based on the most recent FBI crime data).
Also missing from the editorial was acknowledgment of the cultural differences between states such as Ohio and New Hampshire. I am not saying incidents like this can’t happen in New Hampshire (they in fact already have). I am saying that because of the relatively small size of our state, and thanks to the citizens, law enforcement, responsible firearms owners and ethical firearms dealers, we can all be proud that we are one of the safest states in our Union.
The SMG editorial is right in one regard, “Sununu is a good person who cares about people,” and from personal observations he is also genuinely “empathetic.” I can say with absolute certainty that Gov. Sununu is a rational, independent thinker, who has and will continue to “buck the pressure” from those that do not have New Hampshire’s best interests in mind, whether those pressures are real or imaginary.
Sununu is doing something, not for the sake of appearing to act, but by trying to help put in place substantive measures that will work. That is what “doing something” looks like. That is what leadership looks like.