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Gun control advocates cheer passage of HB 564

Bill would make it a crime to bring a gun to school

File photo Members of the gun control group Moms Demand Action stand with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during an October rally at Nashua City Hall. Organization leaders cheered action by New Hampshire House members to pass a bill making it illegal for anyone to take a gun onto school property.

NASHUA – Most New Hampshire House members representing Greater Nashua voted to criminalize carrying a firearm on public school property, a move gun control advocates said should improve safety for teachers and students.

“It’s long past time for us to catch up to the majority of states who have recognized that guns in schools are a serious threat to the safety of our students, educators, school districts, and police departments,” said Deirdre Reynolds, a volunteer leader with the New Hampshire chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“Guns don’t belong in our children’s schools. It’s as simple as that,” she added.

Reynolds represents the organization whose members appeared with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his October rally at Nashua City Hall. However, Moms Demand Action is only one group that collectively applauded when the House voted 213-159 to pass House Bill 564 this week. It states:

“No person shall knowingly carry a firearm on public school property,

including buildings, grounds, school buses, and vans. Any person who violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”

Within the city of Nashua, where all 27 House members are Democrats, 21 representatives approved of the bill. Four of the city’s members – Jan Schmidt, Ken Gidge, Catherine Sofikitis and Michael O’Brien Sr. – did not cast votes on the legislation. Two of the Nashua Democrats voted against HB 564: Mark King and Marty Jack.

Outside the city but in Greater Nashua, those representing communities such as Merrimack, Milford, Amherst, Hollis, Brookline, Hudson, Pelham, Litchfield, Wilton and Lyndeborough, mostly broke down along party lines. Fourteen of these members supported the bill, while 23 opposed it and two failed to vote.

The legislation still has a long way to go to actually become law, as Gov. Chris Sununu may stand in its way – even if it . However, proponents are encouraged.

“Guns do not belong in our elementary, middle, or high schools but right now local school districts and police departments face real challenges in how to appropriately deal with situations in light of major gaps in state law,” Zandra Rice Hawkins, state director of GunSense NH, said. “We need to make sure our local school districts and police departments have the tools they need to deter a dangerous situation before it becomes a deadly one.”

“The House’s decision to move forward is one to be celebrated,” Sophia Greabe, a senior at Hopkinton High School, added. “As a student, I know that worries about guns in school plague this generation like nothing else.”

“The intent of this legislation is to promote the safety and security of New Hampshire children as well as the sanctity of the school environment and should not be manipulated through intimidation and fear-mongering,” House Majority Leader Doug Ley, D-Jaffrey, added.

HOW THEY VOTED:

Here is how New Hampshire House members representing Greater Nashua voted on HB 564:

“No person shall knowingly carry a firearm on public school property, including buildings, grounds, school buses, and vans. Any person who violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”

The measure passed the House by a vote of 213-159.

1. City of Nashua

From the city, there were 21 yeas, 2 nays and 4 non-votes.

All 27 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from the city of Nashua are Democrats.

Ward 1 — Jan Schmidt did not vote. William Bordy and Bruce Cohen voted yea.

Ward 2 — Ray Newman, Sue Newman and Paul R. Bergeron voted yea.

Ward 3 — Sherry Dutzy, Patricia Klee and Suzanne Vail voted yea.

Ward 4 — Fred Davis Jr., Manny Espitia and David Cote voted yea.

Ward 5 — Allison Nutting-Wong, Michael Pedersen and Dan Toomey voted yea.

Ward 6 — Mark King voted nay. Fran Nutter-Upham voted yea. Ken Gidge did not vote.

Ward 7 — Greg Indruk and Deb Stevens voted yea. Catherine Sofikitis did not vote.

Ward 8 — Skip Cleaver, Laura Damphousse Telerski and Latha Mangipudi voted yea.

Ward 9 — Marty Jack voted nay. Linda Harriott-Gathright voted yea. Michael O’Brien Sr. did not vote.

2. Greater Nashua

From Greater Nashua, there were 14 yeas, 23 nays and 2 non-votes.

Milford: Republican Charles Burns voted nay. Democrats Paul Dargie, Joelle Martin and Peter Petrigno voted yea.

Amherst: Democrats Megan Murray and Julie Radhakrishnan voted yea. Republicans Reed Panasiti and Laurie Sanborn voted nay.

Wilton/Lyndeborough: Democrats Kermit Williams, Chris Balch, James Bosman and Jennifer Bernet voted yea.

Hollis: Republican James Bellanger voted nay. Democrat Michelle St. John voted yea. Democrat Kat McGhee did not vote.

Brookline: Republican Jack Flanagan voted nay. Democrat Brett Hall did not vote.

Hudson/Pelham: Republicans Bob Greene, Alicia Lekas, Tony Lekas, Hershel Nunez, Andrew Prout, Andrew Renzullo, Kimberly Rice, Jordan Ulery, Lynne Ober and Russell Ober voted nay.

Litchfield: Republicans Ralph Boehm, Richard Lascelles, Mark McLean and Mark Proulx voted nay.

Merrimack: Republicans Richard Barry, Richard Hinch, Jeanine Notter and Robert L’Heureux voted nay. Democrats Nancy Murphy, Rosemarie Rung, Kathryn Stack and Wendy Thomas voted yea.