- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A state Senate committee has recommended for approval a bill that would remove the licensing requirement for carrying concealed guns in New Hampshire.

Former Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, vetoed a similar bill the last two years, saying the existing law works well and preserves public safety. Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, is likely to sign the bill, which now heads to the Senate in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended approval Tuesday.

Existing state law allows anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it openly. But to carry it out of sight, such as in a purse or under a jacket, a person must get a license from local law enforcement or town officials. The police can take into consideration whether the person is “suitable” to hold a license. An officer could, for example, deny someone a license if he or she is frequently caught getting into fights, even if the person doesn’t have a criminal record.

Officials have 14 days to issue a license after the application is submitted and denials can be appealed in court.

The bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, said the measure serves to “restore the intent of the U.S. Constitution” by eliminating the licensing requirement to carry a concealed firearm by those people legally able to do so.

“We know that our neighboring states including Vermont and now Maine allow residents to carry a firearm without a license, and they have some of the lowest gun violence rates in the nation,” he said in a statement.

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