Milford officials blast proposed state gun law

MILFORD – A proposed state law that would penalize towns that try to control gun use came under fire from local officials Monday night.

Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Fougere said House Bill 1749 contains language offensive and derogatory, and he faulted the bill for “calling out the town of Milford …” when there are many other New Hampshire towns that regulate gun use, including Weare, Merrimack, Londonderry and Dover.

Selectmen passed a rule last summer prohibiting target shooting on the community lands section of the town-owned Brox property.

State Rep. Joelle Martin, of Milford, noted the bill could impose fines.

“Who could support a bill that could potentially fine” town officials, she asked.

And Selectman Mike Putnam, who had voted against the Brox target shooting rule, said he doesn’t like the idea of the state telling a town what to do.

Milford Selectman and state Sen. Gary Daniels, who also had opposed the town rule, defended the proposed legislation, though he said it needs work.

It is not prudent, he said, “for every local community to have their own gun laws,” and the situation needs to be clarified, because New Hampshire is not a Home Rule state.

About a half dozen members of the Milford Gun Club attended the meeting, but none spoke.

House Bill 1749 was introduced last month and would replace an older law that essentially gives the state Legislature authority over everything having to do with firearms in New Hampshire.

In a section called “Legislative Findings,” HB 1749 mentions the town of Milford and the Lebanon School District as among “a growing number of towns and boards violating the law.”

The bill is in the beginning stages, and will be reviewed by the Legislature’s Municipal and County Government Committee. If it makes it out of the committee, there will be a hearing in January.

Ten Republican legislators, none local, are sponsoring the bill, and Fougere said the prime sponsor is from Dunbarton, Rep. J.R. Hoell.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.