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Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.

New Hampshire has incorporated the federal prohibition against selling firearms to people convicted of felonies under state law as well.1 New Hampshire also prohibits any person who has been convicted of a felony against the person or property of another, or a felony under New Hampshire’s Controlled Drug Act, or a similar law in another jurisdiction, from owning, possessing or controlling a firearm.2 New Hampshire state law also prohibits any person from purchasing, receiving, or possessing a firearm while subject to a protective order.3

For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the New Hampshire Background Check Procedures section.

New Hampshire has no laws preventing firearm purchase or possession by, among others:

  • People convicted of violent misdemeanors;
  • Persons with mental illness;
  • Persons convicted of drug or alcohol misdemeanors; or
  • Juvenile offenders.

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  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:7.[]
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:3. There are greater penalties for possession of a firearm by a person convicted of three or more of certain felonies outlined by state law. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:3-a. New Hampshire also prohibits a licensed dealer from delivering a firearm to a person convicted of a felony. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:8(III).[]
  3. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:5(II).[]