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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

New Hampshire Gun Laws

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Introduction

New Hampshire is located in the Northeast, surrounded by Maine to the east, Canada to the north, Vermont to the west, and Massachusetts to the south. New Hampshire is the home of the first primary during Presidential election years. Open carry is legal in New Hampshire even without a valid license to carry, but a license is needed to carry in a vehicle.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the New Hampshire Constitution states:

“All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.”

[http://gunla.ws/nh1]

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B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of the New Hampshire preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“To the extent consistent with federal law, the state of New Hampshire shall have authority and jurisdiction over the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives in the state. Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, no ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision may regulate the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, or firearms supplies in the state.”

[http://gunla.ws/nh2]

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C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, New Hampshire will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes New Hampshire’s license:

“No nonresident holding a current and valid license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in the state in which he resides or who is a peace officer in the state in which he resides, shall be required to obtain a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver within this state if: I. Such nonresident carries upon his person the license held from the state in which he resides; and II. The state in which such person is a resident provides a reciprocal privilege for residents of this state.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the New Hampshire State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. For, hopefully, the most up-to-date list see this following link: [http://gunla.ws/nhfp]

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D. Constitutional Carry

New Hampshire permits anyone who is over the age of 18 and may legally possess a firearm to carry a handgun concealed or openly without a permit. [http://gunla.ws/r6up]

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E. NFA Items

New Hampshire permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law.

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F. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

New Hampshire generally prohibits carrying loaded firearms in vehicles. Loaded long guns may not be carried in vehicles, and handguns may only be carried without a permit if they are unloaded and secured in a locked container that is not readily accessible. [http://gunla.ws/nh3]

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G. Self-defense Laws

New Hampshire has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law.  There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling or place of business. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, kidnapping, or rape.  [http://gunla.ws/nh4]

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H. Criminal Provisions

Under New Hampshire law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by New Hampshire or a person is carrying pursuant to reciprocity between his or her state of license and New Hampshire:

  • In a courtroom, or area used by the court
  • Discharge of a firearm within 15 feet of the traveled portion of or across any state highway [http://gunla.ws/nh5]
  • On posted property
  • Discharge on the land of another within 300 feet of a permanently occupied building without the permission of the owner [http://gunla.ws/nh6]

For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see: [http://gunla.ws/nh7]

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I. Duty to Inform Officer

No. There is no duty to inform a LEO immediately on contact that you possess a firearm. You are required to have Your permit/license and proper identification with You at all times when You carry a concealed firearm and must present both if the LEO demands. [http://gunla.ws/8ks0]

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J. Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

No. “No Firearm” signs in New Hampshire do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to criminal charges.

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K. Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. New Hampshire has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant – You are prohibited from carrying into these areas. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from carrying while You consume alcohol.

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L. Open Carry (Without a Valid Permit/License)

Open carry is legal. New Hampshire has permitless carry. Anyone who can legally possess a firearm can carry open or concealed without any type of permit/license. The state preempts all firearm laws in the state and local authorities cannot have laws/ordinances against open carry. Remember that if You enter any property and the owner/responsible person asks You to leave, You must do so. Failure to leave can result in trespass charges. The minimum age to open carry is 18.

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More