NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 26, 2012

NH Statehouse gun ban gaining support

(Continued)

“We never had a situation like we had in the last two years,” he said, referring to the changes ushered in by O’Brien.

“There was no need for a change,” he said. “Everything was running smoothly.”

Another supporter is newly elected Rep. Mary Till, D-Derry.

“I don’t see how the presence of weapons on the House floor is going to help us work through differences respectfully,” she said.

But other lawmakers, especially Republicans, believe the ban spearheaded by Democrats is politically motivated, and a threat to safety and constitutional rights.

“I think it’s feel-good legislation and an attack on Second Amendment rights,” said Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry. “I think (Democrats) should be worrying about jobs and the economy.”

Baldasaro, a retired Marine sergeant, said lawmakers have a right to protect themselves while at the Statehouse. Current law allows for weapons to be carried, but only if they are concealed.

Baldasaro and Rep. Kenneth Weyler, R-Kingston, expressed concern for lawmakers’ personal safety, especially while leaving the Statehouse at night to walk to a nearby parking garage.

There also is limited security at the Statehouse, where Baldasaro said only a couple of state troopers are allowed to carry guns.

“There are no metal detectors or anything,” he said. “It is an accident waiting to happen.”

Not even the sergeant-at-arms is armed, Weyler said.

“It doesn’t allow the sergeant-at-arms to defend us,” he said. “I am not in favor of having a gun ban.”

Weyler, who doesn’t carry a gun, said he’s felt threatened in the past few years when confronted by angry union members at the Statehouse.

“I would be happy to have a bunch of my colleagues come and defend me,” he said.

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