US state legalises carrying loaded and concealed guns without a licence

New Hampshire is eleventh state, after Idaho, Mississippi and Maine, to abolish mandatory licences

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The Independent US

Gun owners in the US state of  New Hampshire will now be able to conceal and carry their loaded weapons without a licence.

“It is common-sense legislation,” said state governor Chris Sununu at a ceremony marking the change in the law, which abolished the need for mandatory concealed-carry licences

“This is about making sure that our laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to the live-free-or-die spirit.”

 

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(Andrew Caballero/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents in the US must be 18 or older to buy a rifle or shotgun, and 21 or older to buy a handgun.

If they pass a test, pay a fee, and have not been convicted of certain serious crimes, they are given the Firearm Safety Certificate and can legally own a gun.

In the majority of US states, a licence must then be obtained to carry it in public.

However, in New Hampshire anyone who legally owns a gun can carry it exposed without a licence or permit.

Previously, they had to apply every four years, to local police chiefs, for a licence to carry a concealed weapon in a purse, carrier bag, car or briefcase. The new bill abolishes that requirement. 

Cheers erupted from dozens of supporters after Mr Sununu, a former environmental engineer and businessman, put pen to paper, The Concord Monitor reported. 

Critics argued the licencing system was too subjective.

“We have seen substantial abuse of the current statutes by various police departments,” said Republican New Hampshire representative JR Hoell.

The National Rifle Association said New Hampshire is at least the eleventh state to abolish mandatory concealed carry licences.

But the move was criticised in some quarters. 

Joseph Plaia, a police commissioner in the state and member of the Granite State Coalition for Common Sense, said: “This bill will eliminate the state’s longstanding permitting system and prevent local law enforcement from making important determinations that help keep guns out of dangerous hands.”

The chairman of the state Democratic Party, Ray Buckley added: “The governor is making it harder for law enforcement officials to keep track of guns that fall into the wrong hands,”

The US Senate has already voted to scrap regulations, surrounding gun sales to people suffering mental disorders, proposed by Barack Obama’s team.

There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker.

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