After today’s vote, gun-free school zones, background checks, and waiting periods await action from Governor Sununu
The bill’s passage comes as Giffords Law Center releases new report revealing the cost of gun violence in New Hampshire exceeds $208 million each year
June 27, 2019 — Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised the New Hampshire legislature for passing HB 564, a bill that aims to create gun-free zones in schools to better protect students from gun violence. Today’s passage completes a package of gun safety bills passed this year by the state legislature. In May, lawmakers passed HB 109, which requires a background check on all commercial gun sales, and HB 514, which imposes a waiting period between the purchase of a gun and its delivery. All three bills now await action from Governor Sununu.
On the same day, Giffords Law Center published a new report, The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in New Hampshire, detailing how gun deaths in the state have a directly measurable cost of more than $208 million each year, with a direct annual cost to taxpayers of approximately $29 million.
“State leaders must take steps to protect New Hampshire’s future generations,” said Molly Voigt, State Legislative Manager at Giffords. “Students should head to school worrying about tests or tryouts—not the best place to hide from a shooter. Creating gun-free zones in New Hampshire school districts gives teachers and students the peace of mind that lawmakers are willing to take on the gun lobby and pass legislation to keep them safe. We’re proud of the New Hampshire legislature for passing this bill and strongly urge Governor Sununu to sign the gun safety bills into law.”
HB 564 ensures the safety of New Hampshire students by allowing school boards to develop and adopt policy regulating the possession of firearms on public school property. A recent blog by Giffords Law Center found that at least once a month—more than 70 times total since 2014—trusted adults mishandled guns while on school property.
“Gun violence victims and their families face unimaginable pain and suffering,” said Kelly Drane, Research Manager at Giffords Law Center. “After every shooting, communities are left wondering how best to keep their families safe in the future. Our findings help us understand yet another layer of the damage caused by gun violence: the healthcare system, law enforcement, victims, and businesses all bear strains that lead to higher costs for everyone. We hope the report inspires lawmakers at every level to swifty take action and address this deadly epidemic before more people get hurt.”
Giffords Law Center finds the $208 million in directly measurable costs exacts a substantial toll on New Hampshire’s economy. These costs include:
- Healthcare costs: $8 million
- Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $5 million
- Costs to employers: $1 million
- Lost income: $194 million
A large portion of this tab is picked up by the public. Up to 85% of gunshot victims, for example, are either uninsured or on some form of publicly-funded insurance. Additionally, law enforcement efforts are funded entirely by taxpayer dollars. As a result, the direct annual cost of gun violence in New Hampshire is approximately $208 million.
Even more striking, when indirect costs that impact families and communities, such as pain and suffering, are factored in, the overall estimate the economic cost of gun violence rises to $604 million per year.
While victims and their loved ones shoulder enormous financial costs of gun violence, the New Hampshire business community is also impacted by shootings in the state. Shootings engender fear in affected neighborhoods and keep potential customers away—forcing businesses to limit hours or relocate locations. For example, in March 2019, commerce in a bustling commercial neighborhood in Manchester ground to a halt when gunmen opened fire on police and barricaded themselves in a nearby motel. The incident claimed three lives and blocked access to the area—filled with car dealerships, retail stores, and restaurants—for the duration of the 15-hour stand-off.
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently released the latest edition of its Annual Gun Law Scorecard, which grades and ranks each state on its gun laws, and found that New Hampshire received an “F.” New Hampshire further weakened its poor gun laws in 2018 by repealing its prohibition on carrying firearms in vehicles. Currently, the state does not require a permit to carry concealed guns in public, nor does it require background checks at gun shows, online, or in private sales. New Hampshire could raise its F grade by instituting background checks.