Thursday, February 07, 2008

NH Legislator Building Gun-Free Zone

Another unfortunate flair up of lack of reasoning.
Of the 3 dozen people who attended the hearing, the only person to speak in favor of the measure was the its lone sponsor - Henniker Democrat Eleanor Kjellman……The Vietnam-era Air Force veteran told colleagues that her plan to restrict guns at the capital was inspired by three things: a threatening phone call from an Ed and Elaine Brown supporter; a wrathful outburst in the house gallery by a pro-life activist; and most decisively, by the mass shootings that took place last year at Virginia Tech………

"And I thought that no one ever knows when that kind of tragedy will happen, aor where it will happen. And sometimes afterwards people will say 'I had no Idea,' and sometimes they do have an idea, and say that they were just not proactive to take measure to prevent it, and I consider this bill a proactive measure."

The plans opponents had a decidedly different view.

"This is simply bad public policy."

John Evans is president of the NH firearms coalition.

"The gun free zone is just a murder and mayhem zone. You are taking away a citizens right to be armed and defend themselves when they are most vulnerable."

Evans basic line was echoed by representatives of most state gun rights groups. The measure’s critics also cited potential enforcement costs and argued that current policy -- which simply bars weapons in or near the house chamber -- is working fine. More basically, there was also the issue of who the law would most affect. Dan Eaton is a Democrat from Stoddard.

"You have a multitude of members who do carry weapons."

Precisely how many remains anyone’s guess…..But what is widely believed among those who do carry, and many of them have law enforcement experience, is that they serve as de facto back up to the four unarmed security guards and two state troopers who now patrol the statehouse.

I suppose they could spend a huge amount of money on putting in metal detectors on all 10 entrances to the building, and pay for armed security service, and disarm the legislators (of course leaving them unarmed when they leave since you'd have to go completely nuts and not allow guns in any parking lots either).

This would end up as more security theater. Yep, we made a gun free zone, where there hadn't been an issue because someone was scared. Note she didn't bother to think about the threat any place else. What would stop the threat when she walks out of the building?
"We’ve had people come to our committee, testifying on bills who we knew were armed."

That’s Republican John Tholl. He’s a retired state trooper and part-time Police chief for the town of Dalton.

"And I will tell you quite frankly that members of our committee have said many times we’re glad that some of the members are armed because it makes us fell a lot better when we are dealing with someone who is volatile or a little excited."

The scenario Tholl describes isn’t the norm in Concord, and probably isn’t typical anywhere else…. But according to those who track state capital security polices nationwide, NH’s approach is in line with about a third of all states. …Kae Warnock of the national conference of state legislatures says in most capitals polices have changed little since the since the 1970s. …More stringent approaches, she adds, typically come only when something bad happens.

Hmm. Me thinks the writer shows a bent view. No reasoning why he thinks this isn't the "norm." No statistics to support, and in fact from what he does report NH's approach is fairly common.

I'd be more concerned if this was a court or any place where there is a concern with criminals gaining access to a weapon. This on the other hand is a public building and stripping the rights of the citizenry when the walk in the door is questionable.

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