New Hampshire is one of the most gun-friendly states in the U.S. The state got rid of the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed, loaded handgun in 2017, and it has very few restrictions on possessing or carrying firearms. Still, some people aren’t allowed to have guns or other deadly weapons. Read on for details.
Unlike most states, New Hampshire has no laws that restrict nonstudents from bringing firearms on school property. Students aren’t allowed to have guns, but if they do so without written authorization, they face only the possibility of being expelled—not criminal charges.
It’s a class B felony in New Hampshire to carry a firearm or other deadly weapon in a courtroom (or another area used by a court) without authorization, unless you’re a law enforcement or security officer. Other than this restriction, New Hampshire law doesn’t bar guns in any other public places. Moreover, the state specifically prohibits local governments from regulating the possession, carrying, or use of firearms. (N.H. Stat. §§ 159:26, 159:19, 193:13 (2019).)
It’s illegal in New Hampshire to have a gun or other deadly weapon if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony drug crime or a felony against a person or property. The state also prohibits any felons from possessing stun guns and Tasers outside of their homes. Violations are punished as a class B felony.
Although New Hampshire doesn’t outlaw gun possession by domestic violence offenders, state law does require that domestic violence protection orders prohibit the defendants from having any firearms or other deadly weapons as long as the orders are in effect. Anyone who knowingly violates one of these orders may be charged with a class A misdemeanor.
You may also be charged with a class A misdemeanor if you have a firearm or other dangerous weapon while you’re committing a violent crime. The same is true for possession of a stun gun or Taser when you intend to commit a crime, although penalties are increased if you meant to commit a felony.
Finally, it’s a misdemeanor for anyone to have a blackjack, a slung shot, or metal knuckles. (N.H. Stat. §§ 159:3, 159:15, 159:16, 159:21, 159:23, 173-B:5, 173-B:9, 625:11 (2019).)
Illegal Possession of Guns Under Federal Law
Although New Hampshire criminal laws on gun possession apply only to certain felons, federal firearms prohibitions cover a broader range of people, including anyone who has been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor domestic violence, is addicted to or using illegal drugs, has ever been committed to a psychiatric facility, has been dishonorably discharged from the military, or is in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa or illegally. (18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (2019).)
It’s not illegal in New Hampshire for minors (under age 18) to have firearms. However, if you sell, give, or loan a handgun to a minor, you can be charged with a misdemeanor unless you are:
It’s also a misdemeanor to provide minor with a martial arts weapons unless you’re the child’s parent, you have the parent’s written consent, or you’re transferring the weapon to heirs of an estate.
You may be cited with a violation (and fined up to $1,000) if you store a gun in a place where you know that a child under age 16 is likely to get to it, but only if the child actually gets a hold of the weapon and uses it in a reckless or threatening way, fires it recklessly, or uses it while committing a crime. Even if that happens, you won’t be fined if one of several exceptions applies, including when the child got the weapon by breaking into your home, or you kept the gun in a secure, locked place. (N.H. Stat. §§ 159:12, 159:24, 650-C:1 (2019).)
If you’re facing weapons-related charges in New Hampshire, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney promptly. An experienced attorney can explain how the law applies to your situation and help protect your rights in criminal proceedings.
States often change their gun laws, but you can use this search tool to check the current version of statutes discussed in this article.