As gun ownership laws fall like autumn leaves across America, thanks to the January 2011 ascension of thousands of Tea Party Republicans into the legislatures of our conservative states, New Hampshire residents are faced with exactly what was predicted after the November 2010 elections. We have become a much bloodier and more violent state, seemingly overnight, due to the relaxation/elimination of most of the firearm laws that governed us throughout the John Lynch terms. Thanks to William O’Brien, the GOP House Speaker who despite his and his compatriots’ abysmal record of crumbling the very fabric of the Granite State is actually running for reelection, we are officially becoming Mississippi North. Check out these alarming New Hampshire state numbers over the past several years:
2009 - 15 total firearm murders.
2010 - 13 total firearm murders.
Now we come to January 2011 and the Tea Party takeover in Concord.
2011 - 24 total firearm murders.
2012 - Up to April 30 we have already recorded 12 gun-induced tragedies, including the senseless death of Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney on April 12. And contrast all this with the entire last decade (2000-2009) when our state averaged an annual gun-related murder rate in the low teens.
This is the type of article that writes itself, mainly because the gist of it if not the actual numbers was already easily foreseeable by anyone with a scintilla of sense. The House and Senate conservative majorities that were voted in back in 2010 have gutted the common-sense policies that had been in place throughout Lynch’s first three terms and had made our state the envy of the rest of America with its low taxes, minuscule murder rate (regularly acclaimed as the safest state to raise a family), graduation rankings, etc. Despite the governor’s vetoing of as many House/Senate approved bills as he could when not overridden by O’Brien and gang, the Granite State has gone in just over one year from the safest state per capita to one of the most dangerous, as we now "boast" among the laxest gun laws in the United States.
Since the Republican dictatorship began, the State House now allows concealed firearms in its gallery and chamber. Gun owners no longer have to register their guns. And now, unless you’re carrying a concealed loaded weapon outside of your domicile or place of business, you aren’t required to carry a valid firearm license. There are no background checks on citizens who purchase guns at gun shows (many of the sellers are unlicensed as well). This is the type of permissiveness that any rational person would already know would be a recipe for disaster if enacted, similar to realizing that, say, texting while driving would lead to more car accidents. But the Republican legislature pushed these changes through last year anyway, and we’re all watching the unhappy and predictable results.
Of course the National Rifle Association will ignore and discount this turn of events, as they always do, with their silly slogans ("guns don’t kill people, people kill people", etc.). Happily for them, firearm sales and revenues have skyrocketed across the state (understandably, it has to be admitted, what with our swift erosion to an especially violent episode of "The Rifleman"). And somewhere the late Charlton Heston may even be smiling. But this should be a bitter pill to swallow for the rest of us, as we watch our once-envied state go down the tubes on the personal safety issue, one that we could formerly pride ourselves on.
New Hampshire’s voters, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, can halt our GOP-led dissolution on November 6. Millions of words will continue to be written about the ongoing right-wing wars on women, minorities, students, the elderly, et al on both the national and New Hampshire levels. But all these important battles would become almost meaningless if we lose the right to live and raise our children in a stable, secure environment that is the most important sign of a civilized society. We can vote to make the Tea Party regression just a four-year footnote in America’s history, and hope that other states across our nation join with us. Just the fact that police unions, made up of the brave professionals charged with upholding the peace, are unanimously against the NRA-led loosening of gun laws should be enough reason for the rest of us to be as well.