New Hampshire's Republican Gov. Chris Sununu last week vetoed a bill that would have allowed gun seizures without due process.
The measure, House Bill 687, was described as a "red flag" bill by lawmakers, designed to remove guns and ammunition from someone felt to be at risk of harming themselves or others. It was supported by state and national anti-gun groups and sent to the Governor on a Democrat-heavy vote. However, Sununu wasn't buying what they were trying to sell.
“Unfortunately, the process laid out in House Bill 687 goes too far and would weaken the constitutional rights of law-abiding New Hampshire citizens,” Sununu said in his veto message. "This bill could lead to situations where law-abiding Granite Staters have their property seized with no notice or opportunity to speak in their own defense. The lack of due process in this legislation is antithetical to the New Hampshire and American tradition."
The proposal would have allowed ex parte orders-- which could be obtained without the subject even appearing in court-- to suspend an individual's gun rights through a civil process termed an "Extreme Risk Protection Order." Police or family could seek out the order, with the latter including non-relatives simply "cohabiting" with an individual within the previous 24 months and those who had been romantically involved, even if a relationship was not consummated.
Those violating such orders could face as much as seven years in prison while those who filed false claims would only be subject to a misdemeanor, a fact that pro-Second Amendment groups slammed as being ripe for false accusations against many law-abiding individuals.
"Constitutional rights should only be restricted with sufficient due process of law," noted the NRA on HB687. "Due process limits restrictions on constitutional rights to only serious convictions and adjudications that provide procedural protections to the accused, which results in more reliable proceedings. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms should not be treated as a second-class right and should only be restricted when sufficient protections are in place."
Sununu has also dropped veto ink on several other bills sent to him by lawmakers, to include another gun control proposal. The Republican rejected HB 1660 late last month, a bill that aimed to establish a protective order for vulnerable adults but had Second Amendment concerns.
“[T]he legislation would permit a court to enter a temporary order with or without actual notice to the person against whom the order is being sought," said Sununu. "This and other provisions could lead to violations of an individual’s rights under the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as similar provisions within the New Hampshire Constitution. These concerns were raised repeatedly in the work my office engaged in with legislators and advocates."
Local media reports that Sununu's vetoes are expected to hold up under legislative scrutiny, with Dems likely unable to muster enough votes for an expected override attempt.