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New Hampshire Gun Laws

last updated: May 19, 2017

Gun laws are posted here as a courtesy only and are updated as often as possible. Please check with the actual state website for any additions / revisions to law that may have been made. Up to date information can be found at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/nhtoc.htm.

New Hampshire Constitution Part First, Article 2-a

All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.

New Hampshire Constitution Part First, Article 13

No person, who is conscientiously scrupulous about the lawfulness of bearing arms, shall be compelled thereto.

TITLE I - THE STATE AND ITS GOVERNMENT

CHAPTER 4 - Powers Of The Governor And Council In Certain Cases

Miscellaneous Provisions

§4:45 - State of Emergency Declaration; Powers.
  1. The governor shall have the power to declare a state of emergency, as defined in RSA 21-P:35, VIII, by executive order if the governor finds that a natural, technological, or man-made disaster of major proportions is imminent or has occurred within this state, and that the safety and welfare of the inhabitants of this state require an invocation of the provisions of this section. The general court shall have the same power to declare a state of emergency by concurrent resolution of the house and senate. An executive order or concurrent resolution declaring a state of emergency shall specify the:
    1. Nature of the emergency;
    2. Political subdivisions or geographic areas subject to the declaration;
    3. Conditions that have brought about the emergency; and
    4. Duration of the state of emergency, if less than 21 days.
    1. A state of emergency shall terminate automatically 21 days after its declaration unless it is renewed under the same procedures set forth in paragraph I of this section. The governor may, by executive order, renew a declaration of a state of emergency as many times as the governor finds is necessary to protect the safety and welfare of the inhabitants of this state.
    2. If the governor finds that maintaining the state of emergency is no longer justified, the governor shall issue an executive order terminating the state of emergency.
    3. The legislature may terminate a state of emergency by concurrent resolution adopted by a majority vote of each chamber. The governor's power to renew a declaration of a state of emergency shall terminate upon the adoption of a concurrent resolution under this subparagraph; provided, however, that such resolution shall not preclude the governor from declaring a new emergency for different circumstances under paragraph I of this section.
  2. During the existence of a state of emergency, and only for so long as such state of emergency shall exist, the governor shall have and may exercise the following additional emergency powers:
    1. To enforce all laws, rules, and regulations relating to emergency management and to assume control of any or all emergency management forces and helpers in the state.
    2. To sell, lend, lease, give, transfer, receive, or deliver materials or perform services for emergency management purposes on such terms and conditions as the governor shall prescribe and without regard to the limitations of any existing law, and to account to the state treasurer for any funds received for such property.
    3. To provide for and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area or areas within the state and to take such steps as are necessary for the receipt and care of such evacuees.
    4. Subject to the provisions of the state constitution, to remove from office any public officer having administrative responsibilities under RSA 21-P:34 through 21-P:48. Such removal shall be upon charges after service upon such person of a copy of such charges and after giving him or her an opportunity to be heard in his or her defense. Pending the preparation and disposition of charges, the governor may suspend such person for a period not exceeding 30 days. A vacancy resulting from removal or suspension pursuant to this section shall be filled by the governor until it is filled as otherwise provided by law.
    5. To perform and exercise such other functions, powers, and duties as are necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population.
    6. To declare an emergency temporary location or locations for the seat of state government at such place or places within this state as the governor may deem advisable under the circumstances and to take such action and issue such orders as may be necessary for an orderly transaction of the affairs of state government to such emergency temporary location or locations. Such emergency temporary location or locations shall remain the seat of government until the legislature shall by law establish a new location or locations or until the state of emergency is declared to be ended by the governor and the seat of government is returned to its normal location.

Source. 2002, 257:4, eff. July 1, 2002.

§4:46 - Taking of Private Property; Compensation and Use.
  1. Whenever a state of emergency is declared or invoked and the taking of real or personal property is required, the governor with the advice and consent of the executive council may, by warrant specifying the particular real property and the personal property by specification of the types, quantities, and general location, together with the names of the owners, when known, authorize the commissioner of safety, by his or her agents, to:
    1. Take possession of any private real estate and the improvements on it for a limited period.
    2. Take title in the name of the state to any such improvement when the exigencies of the situation require its destruction.
    3. Take possession or title in the name of the state to:
      1. Any high explosives.
      2. Any horses, vehicles, motor vehicles, aircraft, ships, boats, or any other means of conveyance, including the rolling stock of railroads or of motor bus transportation.
      3. Any cattle, poultry, provisions for man or beast, clothing, bedding, medicines, and medical supplies in excess of the reasonable needs of the owner and the owner's household, during the expected duration of the emergency.
      4. Any fuel for heating or other necessary purposes.
      5. Any gasoline or other means of engine propulsion, or any communications equipment or systems.

    I-a. Under no circumstances shall this section be construed to authorize the taking, confiscation, or seizure of firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components.

    I-b. This section shall not apply to personal property owned by or intended for use by individuals or families.

  2. Takings under this section shall be strictly limited to the necessities of the situation. The person proposing to take possession of any such property in the name of the state shall present to the owner or person in possession or control of the property a copy of the warrant under which the person purports to act certified by the commissioner of safety. Upon taking possession or control of such property the person shall present a receipt specifically listing the property so taken and specifically referring to the warrant authorizing the taking.
  3. Whenever possession of any real estate or title to any personal property is taken under this section, its owner or possessor, hereinafter referred to as the claimant, shall be entitled to damages on account of such taking. Upon the taking of any such property, the chief justice of the superior court is authorized to appoint a commission of 3 suitable persons to assess fair and just compensation in cases in which the amount cannot be determined by agreement. The chief justice shall fix the per diem compensation of the members of the commission and fill any vacancies which may occur. The commission shall determine what sum shall justly compensate the claimant for the property so taken and may in the performance of its duties hire, and the state shall pay for the services of, such skilled and disinterested appraisers as the commission shall deem necessary to assist it in the performance of its duty.
  4. Any claimant aggrieved by the award made by the commission may appeal to the superior court from the decision within 60 days from the granting of the award. All final awards of judgments entered against the state in such proceedings and the fees and expenses of the commission shall be promptly paid by the state treasurer, on warrant of the governor and council, from any money in the general fund of the treasury not otherwise appropriated.
  5. The property taken under this section shall be used in such manner as the governor, with the advice and consent of the executive council, shall deem in the best interests of the state, its inhabitants or the United States, which manner may include the sale at the prevailing market price or the gratuitous distribution of the articles enumerated in subparagraphs I(c)(3), (4) and (5). All moneys derived from the sale of any such property shall be paid over to the state treasurer and deposited in the general fund of the state.
  6. Any person who willfully takes possession of, or attempts to take possession of, property, purporting to act under this section but without authority to so act, whether by false pretense or otherwise, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a class B felony if a natural person, or guilty of a felony if any other person, and 1/2 of any fine imposed shall be paid to the owner of the property and 1/2 to the county.

Source. 2002, 257:4. 2003, 319:99, 100. 2006, 124:1, 2. 2012, 229:1, 2, eff. Aug. 17, 2012.

TITLE XII - PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE

CHAPTER 159 - Pistols And Revolvers

§159:1 - Definition.

Pistol or revolver, as used herein, means any firearm with barrel less than 16 inches in length. It does not include antique pistols, gun canes, or revolvers. An antique pistol, gun cane, or revolver, for the purposes of this chapter, means any pistol, gun cane, or revolver utilizing an early type of ignition, including, but not limited to, flintlocks, wheel locks, matchlocks, percussions and pin-fire, but no pistol, gun cane, or revolver which utilizes readily available center fire or rim-fire cartridges which are in common, current use shall be deemed to be an antique pistol, gun cane, or revolver. Nothing in this section shall prevent antique pistols, gun canes, or revolvers from being owned or transferred by museums, antique or arms collectors, or licensed gun dealers at auctions, gun shows, or private premises provided such ownership or transfer does not conflict with federal statutes.

Source. 1923, 118:1. PL 149:1. RL 179:1. RSA 159:1. 1967, 220:1. 1992, 273:1, eff. July 17, 1992.

§159:4 - Carrying Without License.

No person shall carry a loaded pistol or revolver in any vehicle or concealed upon his person, except in his dwelling, house or place of business, without a valid license therefor as hereinafter provided. A loaded pistol or revolver shall include any pistol or revolver with a magazine, cylinder, chamber or clip in which there are loaded cartridges. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall, for the first such offense, be guilty of a misdemeanor. For the second and for each subsequent violation of the provisions of this section, such person shall be guilty of a class B felony, provided such second or subsequent violation has occurred within 7 years of the previous conviction.

Source. 1923, 118:4. PL 149:4. RL 179:4. 1951, 151:1. RSA 159:4. 1967, 220:3. 1973, 528:84. 1994, 48:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1995.

§159:5 - Exceptions.

The provisions of RSA 159:3 and 4 shall not apply to marshals, sheriffs, policemen or other duly appointed peace and other law enforcement officers, or bailiffs and court officers responsible for court security; nor to the regular and ordinary transportation of pistols or revolvers as merchandise, nor to members of the armed services of the United States when on duty; nor to the national guard when on duty; nor to organizations by law authorized to purchase or receive such weapons; nor to duly authorized military or civil organizations when parading, or the members thereof when at, or going to or from, their customary places of assembly.

Source. 1923, 118:5. PL 149:5. RL 179:5. 1951, 151:2. RSA 159:5. 1985, 258:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

§159:5-a - Exceptions and Exemptions Not Required to be Negated.

In any complaint, information, or indictment, and in any action or proceeding brought for the enforcement of any provision of this chapter, it shall not be necessary to negate any exception, excuse, proviso, or exemption contained herein, and the burden of proof of any such exception, excuse, proviso or exemption shall be upon the defendant.

Source. 1987, 181:2, eff. May 12, 1987.

§159:6 - (2017) License to Carry.
    1. The selectmen of a town, the mayor or chief of police of a city or a full-time police officer designated by them respectively, the county sheriff for a resident of an unincorporated place, or the county sheriff if designated by the selectmen of a town that has no police chief, upon application of any resident of such town, city, or unincorporated place, or the director of state police, or some person designated by such director, upon application of a nonresident, shall issue a license to such applicant authorizing the applicant to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in this state for not less than 5 years from the date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to the applicant's person or property or has any proper purpose, unless the applicant is prohibited by New Hampshire or federal statute from possessing a firearm. Hunting, target shooting, or self-defense shall be considered a proper purpose. The license shall be valid for all allowable purposes regardless of the purpose for which it was originally issued.
    2. The license shall be in duplicate and shall bear the name, address, description, and signature of the licensee. The original shall be delivered to the licensee and the duplicate shall be preserved by the people issuing the same for 5 years. When required, license renewal shall take place within the month of the fifth anniversary of the license holder's date of birth following the date of issuance. The license shall be issued within 14 days after application, and, if such application is denied, the reason for such denial shall be stated in writing, the original of which such writing shall be delivered to the applicant, and a copy kept in the office of the person to whom the application was made. The fee for licenses issued to residents of the state shall be $10, which fee shall be for the use of the town or city granting said licenses; the fee for licenses granted to out-of-state residents shall be $100, which fee shall be for the use of the state. The director of state police is hereby authorized and directed to prepare forms for the licenses required under this chapter and forms for the application for such licenses and to supply the same to officials of the cities and towns authorized to issue the licenses. The form shall require no more information than was required on the state of New Hampshire application for pistol/revolver license, form DSSP 85, as revised in December 2009. No other forms shall be used by officials of cities and towns. The cost of the forms shall be paid out of the fees received from nonresident licenses.
  1. No photograph or fingerprint shall be required or used as a basis to grant, deny, or renew a license to carry for a resident or nonresident, unless requested by the applicant.
  2. The availability of a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver under this section or under any other provision of law shall not be construed to impose a prohibition on the unlicensed transport or carry of a firearm in a vehicle, or on or about one's person, whether openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, by a resident, nonresident, or alien if that individual is not otherwise prohibited by statute from possessing a firearm in the state of New Hampshire.

Source. 1923, 118:6. PL 149:6. 1941, 172:1. RL 179:6. 1951, 151:3. RSA 159:6. 1959, 100:1. 1967, 220:4. 1977, 563:76. 1979, 355:1. 1993, 27:1; 203:1. 1994, 257:1; 257:2. 1996, 167:2, eff. Aug. 2, 1996. 2003, 90:1, eff. July 29, 2003. 2009, 144:194, eff. July 1, 2009. 2012, 255:1, eff. Aug. 17, 2012. 2015, 124:1, eff. June 8, 2015. 2017, 0001:1. eff. Feb. 22, 2017

§159:6-a - Confidentiality of Licenses.

Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 91-A:4 or any other provision of law to the contrary, all papers and records, including applications, pertaining to the issuance of licenses pursuant to RSA 159:6 and all licenses issued pursuant to said section are subject to inspection only by law enforcement officials of the state or any political subdivision thereof or of the federal government while in the performance of official duties or upon written consent, for good cause shown, of the superior court in the county where said license was issued.

Source. 1979, 106:1, eff. July 10, 1979.

§159:6-b - Suspension or Revocation of License.
  1. The issuing authority may order a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver issued to any person pursuant to RSA 159:6 to be suspended or revoked for just cause, provided written notice of the suspension or revocation and the reason therefore is given to the licensee. A licensee whose license has been suspended or revoked shall be permitted a hearing on such suspension or revocation if a hearing is requested by the licensee to the issuing authority within 7 days of the suspension or revocation.
  2. When the licensee hereunder ceases to be a resident of the community in which the license was issued he shall notify in writing the issuing authority at his new place of residence that he has a current license. Such license shall remain in effect until it expires pursuant to RSA 159:6.

Source. 1979, 355:2, eff. Aug. 22, 1979.

§159:6-c - Appeal From Denial, Suspension, or Revocation.

Any person whose application for a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver has been denied pursuant to RSA 159:6 or whose license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver has been suspended or revoked pursuant to RSA 159:6-b may within 30 days thereafter, petition the district or municipal court in the jurisdiction in which such person resides to determine whether the petitioner is entitled to a license. The court shall conduct a hearing within 14 days after receipt of the petition. During this hearing the burden shall be upon the issuing authority to demonstrate by clear and convincing proof why any denial, suspension, or revocation was justified, failing which the court shall enter an order directing the issuing authority to grant or reinstate the petitioner's license. The court shall issue its decision not later than 14 days after the hearing on whether the petitioner is entitled to a license.

Source. 1979, 355:2. 1998, 380:2, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.

§159:6-d - Full Faith and Credit for Licenses From Other States; Reciprocity.

Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 159:6, no nonresident holding a current and valid license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in the state in which he resides or who is a peace officer in the state in which he resides, shall be required to obtain a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver within this state if:

  1. Such nonresident carries upon his person the license held from the state in which he resides; and
  2. The state in which such person is a resident provides a reciprocal privilege for residents of this state.

Source. 1993, 130:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1994.

§159:6-e - Violation.

Any person aggrieved by a violation of the licensing sections of this chapter by a licensing entity may petition the superior court of the county in which the alleged violation occurred for injunctive relief. The court shall give proceedings under this chapter priority on the court calendar. Such a petitioner may appear with or without counsel. The petition shall be deemed sufficient if it states facts constituting a violation of the licensing sections of this chapter by the licensing entity, and may be filed by the petitioner or the petitioner's counsel with the clerk of court or the justice. The clerk of court or any justice shall order service by copy of the petition on the licensing entity or a person employed by the entity. If the justice finds that time is of the essence, the justice may order notice by any reasonable means, and shall have authority to issue an order ex parte when the justice reasonably deems such an order necessary to insure compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

Source. 1996, 122:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1997.

§159:6-f - Remedies.
  1. If any licensing entity or employee or member of the city council or board of selectmen, in violation of the provisions of this chapter, refuses to comply with this chapter, such entity or person shall be liable for reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in a lawsuit under this chapter to enforce the terms of this chapter, provided that the court finds that such lawsuit was necessary in order to obtain compliance with this chapter by the licensing authority. Fees shall not be awarded unless the court finds that the entity or person knew or should have known that the conduct engaged in was a violation of this chapter or when the parties, by agreement, provide that no such fees shall be paid. In any case in which fees are awarded under this chapter, upon a finding that an employee, or other official of a licensing entity has acted in bad faith in refusing to comply with this chapter, the court may award such fees personally against such employee or other official.
  2. The court may invalidate an action of a licensing entity taken in violation of the provisions of this chapter, if the circumstances justify such invalidation, and may require the licensing entity to issue a license or otherwise comply with the provisions of this chapter.
  3. In addition to any other relief awarded pursuant to this chapter, the court may issue an order to enjoin future violations of this chapter.

Source. 1996, 122:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1997.

§159:7 - Sales to Felons.

No person shall sell, deliver, or otherwise transfer a pistol, revolver or any other firearm, to a person who has been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a felony. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class B felony.

Source. 1923, 118:8. PL 149:7. RL 179:7. RSA 159:7. 1973, 405:2; 528:85. 1981, 553:5, eff. Aug. 29, 1981.

§159:8 - License to Sell.

The selectmen of a town and the chief of police of a city may grant licenses, the form of which shall be prescribed by the director of the division of state police, effective for not more than 3 years from date of issue, permitting the licensee to sell at retail pistols and revolvers subject to the following conditions, for breach of any of which the licensee shall be subject to forfeiture:

  1. The business shall be carried on only in the building designated in the license or at any organized sporting show or arms collectors' meeting sponsored by a chartered club or organization.
  2. The license or a copy thereof, certified by the issuing authority, shall be displayed on the premises where it can easily be read.
  3. No pistol, revolver, or other firearm shall be delivered to a purchaser not personally known to the seller or who does not present clear evidence of his identity; nor to a person who has been convicted of a felony.

Source. 1923, 118:10. PL 149:8. RL 179:8. RSA 159:8. 1967, 220:5. 1979, 44:1. 1981, 553:6. 1991, 254:2. 1996, 167:1, eff. Aug. 2, 1996.

§159:8-a - Sales to Nonresidents; Attorney General.

No person holding a license issued under the provisions of RSA 159:8 shall sell a pistol or revolver to a nonresident unless such nonresident has authority under the laws of the state of his residence, to purchase a pistol or revolver in the state of his residence, or unless the director of the division of state police, for good cause shown, has issued to such nonresident a permit for the purchase of a pistol or revolver. The attorney general shall, at least once annually, file with the secretary of state a summary of the laws of each state of the United States relative to the purchase of pistols and revolvers in such states; and a licensee may rely upon such summary in determining if a nonresident offering to purchase a pistol or revolver has authority to make such purchase under the laws of the state of his residence.

Source. 1967, 220:6, eff. Aug. 21, 1967.

§159:8-b - Penalties.

If a licensee shall in any court be found guilty of a violation of any of the provisions of RSA 159:8-a, such court shall, for each such violation, order the suspension of his license for a period of 3 months, and may, in addition, impose a fine not in excess of $100.

Source. 1967, 220:6, eff. Aug. 21, 1967.

§159:9 - [Repealed]

[Repealed 1996, 116:1, I, eff. July 14, 1996.]

§159:10 - Sale Without License.

Any person who, without being licensed as herein provided, sells, advertises or exposes for sale, or has in his possession with intent to sell, pistols or revolvers shall be guilty of a class B felony if a natural person, or guilty of a felony if any other person.

Source. 1923, 118:9. PL 149:10. RL 179:10. RSA 159:10. 1967, 220:7. 1973, 528:86, eff. Oct. 31, 1973 at 11:59 p.m.

§159:11 - False Information.

Any person who, in purchasing or otherwise securing delivery of a pistol, revolver, or other firearm, gives false information or offers false evidence of his identity, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for the first offense, and be guilty of a class B felony for any subsequent offense.

Source. 1923, 118:11. PL 149:11. RL 179:11. RSA 159:11. 1967, 220:8. 1981, 553:7, eff. Aug. 29, 1981.

§159:12 - Sale to Minors.
  1. Any person who shall sell, barter, hire, lend or give to any minor any pistol or revolver shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  2. This section shall not apply to:
    1. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, guardians, administrators or executors who give a revolver to their children or wards or to heirs to an estate.
    2. Individuals instructing minors in the safe use of firearms during a supervised firearms training program, provided the minor's parent or legal guardian has granted the minor permission to participate in such program.
    3. Licensed hunters accompanying a minor while lawfully taking wildlife.
    4. Individuals supervising minors using firearms during a lawful shooting event or activity.

Source. 1923, 118:7. PL 149:12. RL 179:12. RSA 159:12. 1973, 528:87, eff. Oct. 31, 1973 at 11:59 p.m. 2006, 73:2, eff. April 28, 2006.

§159:13 - Changing Marks.

No person shall change, alter, remove or obliterate the name of the maker, model, manufacturer's number or other mark of identification on any pistol or revolver. Possession of any such firearms upon which the same shall have been changed, altered, removed or obliterated shall be presumptive evidence that such possessor has changed, altered, removed or obliterated the same. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Source. 1923, 118:12. PL 149:13. RL 179:13. RSA 159:13. 1973, 528:88, eff. Oct. 31, 1973 at 11:59 p.m.

§159:14 - Exemption.

None of the provisions of this chapter shall prohibit an individual not licensed under the provisions thereof who is not engaged in the business of selling pistols or revolvers from selling a pistol or revolver to a person licensed under this chapter or to a person personally known to him.

Source. 1967, 220:9, eff. Aug. 21, 1967.

§159:15 - Possession of Dangerous Weapon While Committing a Violent Crime.
  1. A person shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor if that person uses or employs slung shot, metallic knuckles, billies, or other deadly weapon as defined in RSA 625:11, V during the commission or attempted commission of a violent crime.
  2. "Violent crime,'' for purposes of this section, means "violent crime'' as defined in RSA 651:5, XIII.

Source. 1973, 370:15. 1998, 373:1. 2001, 214:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2002.

§159:16 - Carrying or Selling Weapons.

Whoever, except as provided by the laws of this state, sells, has in his possession with intent to sell, or carries on his person any blackjack, slung shot, or metallic knuckles shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; and such weapon or articles so carried by him shall be confiscated to the use of the state.

Source. 1973, 370:16; 1992, 273:2, eff. July 17, 1992. 2010, 67:1, eff. May 18, 2010.

§159:17 - Exceptions.

The provisions of the preceding section shall not apply to officers of the law, to persons holding hunting or fishing licenses when lawfully engaged in hunting or fishing, to employees of express companies while on duty, to watchmen while on duty, to emergency medical technicians, firefighters, or military personnel while in the course of their duties, or to duly authorized military or civic organizations when parading, or to the members thereof when at, or going to or from, their customary places of assembly.

Source. 1973, 370:17, eff. Nov. 1, 1973. 2006, 227:1, eff. July 31, 2006.

§159:18 - Felonious Use of Teflon-coated, Armor-piercing and Exploding Bullets and Cartridges.
  1. A person is guilty of a class B felony if he uses or attempts to use any teflon-coated or armor-piercing bullet or cartridge, or any bullet or cartridge which contains any explosive substance in the projectile and is designed to explode upon impact, in the course of committing any misdemeanor or felony.
  2. Neither the whole nor any part of a sentence of imprisonment imposed for a violation of this section shall be served concurrently with any other term of imprisonment.

Source. 1983, 311:1, eff. Aug. 17, 1983.

§159:19 - Courthouse Security.
  1. No person shall knowingly carry a loaded or unloaded pistol, revolver, or firearm or any other deadly weapon as defined in RSA 625:11, V, whether open or concealed or whether licensed or unlicensed, upon the person or within any of the person's possessions owned or within the person's control in a courtroom or area used by a court. Whoever violates the provisions of this paragraph shall be guilty of a class B felony.
  2. Firearms may be secured at the entrance to a courthouse by courthouse security personnel.
  3. For purposes of paragraph I, "area used by a court'' means:
    1. In a building dedicated exclusively to court use, the entire building exclusive of the area between the entrance and the courthouse security.
    2. In any other building which includes a court facility, courtrooms, jury assembly rooms, deliberation rooms, conference and interview rooms, the judge's chambers, other court staff facilities, holding facilities, and corridors, stairways, waiting areas, and elevators directly connecting these rooms and facilities.
  4. The provisions of this section shall not apply to marshals, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, police or other duly appointed or elected law enforcement officers, bailiffs and court security officers, or persons with prior authorization of the court for the purpose of introducing weapons into evidence and as otherwise provided for in RSA 159:5.
  5. It shall be an affirmative defense to any prosecution under paragraph I that there was no notice of the provisions of paragraph I posted in a conspicuous place at each public entrance to the court building.

Source. 1985, 258:2. 2000, 175:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.

§159:19-a - Criminal Use of Pistol Cane or Sword Cane.
  1. Any person who uses a pistol cane or sword cane on another person with intent to commit a crime punishable as a misdemeanor shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  2. Any person who uses a pistol cane or sword cane on another person with intent to commit a crime punishable as a felony shall be guilty of a class B felony.
  3. Neither the whole nor any part of a sentence of imprisonment imposed for a violation of this section shall be served concurrently with any other term of imprisonment.

Source. 1992, 273:3, eff. July 17, 1992.

§159:20 - Self-Defense Weapons Defined.

In this subdivision:

  1. "Electronic defense weapon'' means an electronically activated non-lethal device which is designed for or capable of producing an electrical charge of sufficient magnitude to immobilize or incapacitate a person temporarily.
  2. "Aerosol self-defense spray weapon'' means any aerosol self-defense spray weapon which is designed to immobilize or incapacitate a person temporarily.

Source. 1986, 46:1. 1994, 139:2, eff. July 1, 1995.

§159:21 - Possession by Felons Prohibited.

Any person who has been convicted of a felony in this or any other state who possesses an electronic defense weapon away from the premises where he resides shall be guilty of a class B felony. Neither the whole nor any part of a sentence of imprisonment imposed for a violation of this section shall be served concurrently with any other term of imprisonment.

Source. 1986, 46:1, eff. May 5, 1986.

§159:22 - Restricted Sale.

Any person who knowingly sells an electronic defense weapon to a person under 18 years of age shall be guilty of a violation.

Source. 1986, 46:1, eff. May 5, 1986.

§159:25 - Voluntarily Surrendered Firearms.

No state agency shall operate a firearms "voluntary surrender and destroy'' program. Firearms which are voluntarily surrendered to a state agency shall be sold at public auction or kept by the state agency for its own use. Proceeds from firearms sold at public auction by the state shall be deposited in the general fund.

Source. 1998, 380:1, eff. Aug. 25, 1998.

§159:26 - Firearms, Ammunition, and Knives; Authority of the State.
  1. To the extent consistent with federal law, the state of New Hampshire shall have authority and jurisdiction over the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives in the state. Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, no ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision may regulate the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, or firearms supplies in the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting a political subdivision's right to adopt zoning ordinances for the purpose of regulating firearms or knives businesses in the same manner as other businesses or to take any action allowed under RSA 207:59.
  2. Upon the effective date of this section, all municipal ordinances and regulations not authorized under paragraph I relative to the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearm components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives shall be null and void.

Source. 2003, 283:2, eff. July 18, 2003. 2011, 139:1, eff. Aug. 6, 2011.

CHAPTER 159-D - Criminal Background Checks

§159-D:1 - Sale of Firearms; Criminal History Record and Protective Order Check.

The department of safety may become the point of contact for the federal government for the purposes of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Source. 1999, 336:1, eff. Nov. 3, 1999.

§159-D:2 - Confidentiality.
  1. If the department of safety conducts criminal background checks under RSA 159-D:1, any records containing information pertaining to a potential buyer or transferee who is not found to be prohibited from receipt or transfer of a firearm by reason of state or federal law, which are created by the department of safety to conduct the criminal background check, shall be confidential and may not be disclosed by the department or any officers or employees to any person or to another agency. The department shall destroy any such records after it communicates the corresponding approval number to the licensee and, in any event, such records shall be destroyed within one day after the day of the receipt of the licensee's request.
  2. The department shall retain records containing any information pertaining to a potential buyer or transferee who is prohibited from receipt or transfer of a firearm for 3 years.
  3. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the department may maintain only a log of dates of requests for criminal background checks and unique approval numbers corresponding to such dates for an indefinite period.
  4. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow the department to maintain records containing the names of licensees who receive unique approval numbers or to maintain records of firearm transactions, including the names or other identification of licensees and potential buyers or transferees, including persons not otherwise prohibited by law from the receipt or possession of firearms.

Source. 1999, 336:1, eff. Nov. 3, 1999.

§159-D:3 - Penalties for Attempts to Purchase Firearms Illegally.

A person who completes and signs an application for purchase of a firearm and who knows that such purchase is illegal because he or she is subject to a protective order shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a class B felony for a second or subsequent offense.

Source. 2000, 152:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.

TITLE LXII - CRIMINAL CODE

CHAPTER 627 - Justification

§627:1 - General Rule.

Conduct which is justifiable under this chapter constitutes a defense to any offense. The fact that such conduct is justifiable shall constitute a complete defense to any civil action based on such conduct.

Source. 1971, 518:1. 1979, 429:2, eff. Aug. 22, 1979.

§627:1-a - Civil Immunity.

A person who uses force in self-protection or in the protection of other persons pursuant to RSA 627:4, in the protection of premises and property pursuant to RSA 627:7 and 627:8, in law enforcement pursuant to RSA 627:5, or in the care or welfare of a minor pursuant to RSA 627:6, is justified in using such force and shall be immune from civil liability for personal injuries sustained by a perpetrator which were caused by the acts or omissions of the person as a result of the use of force. In a civil action initiated by or on behalf of a perpetrator against the person, the court shall award the person reasonable attorney's fees, and costs, including but not limited to, expert witness fees, court costs, and compensation for loss of income.

Source. 2011, 268:3, eff. Nov. 13, 2011.

§627:2 - Public Duty.
  1. Any conduct, other than the use of physical force under circumstances specifically dealt with in other sections of this chapter, is justifiable when it is authorized by law, including laws defining functions of public servants or the assistance to be rendered public servants in the performance of their duties; laws governing the execution of legal process or of military duty; and judgments or orders of courts or other tribunals.
  2. The justification afforded by this section to public servants is not precluded by the fact that the law, order or process was defective provided it appeared valid on its face or, as to persons assisting public servants, by the fact that the public servant to whom assistance was rendered exceeded his legal authority or that there was a defect of jurisdiction in the legal process or decree of the court or tribunal, provided the actor believed the public servant to be engaged in the performance of his duties or that the legal process or court decree was competent.

Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973.

§627:3 - Competing Harms.
  1. Conduct which the actor believes to be necessary to avoid harm to himself or another is justifiable if the desirability and urgency of avoiding such harm outweigh, according to ordinary standards of reasonableness, the harm sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense charged. The desirability and urgency of such conduct may not rest upon considerations pertaining to the morality and advisability of such statute, either in its general or particular application.
  2. When the actor was reckless or negligent in bringing about the circumstances requiring a choice of harms or in appraising the necessity of his conduct, the justification provided in paragraph I does not apply in a prosecution for any offense for which recklessness or negligence, as the case may be, suffices to establish criminal liability.

Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973.

§627:4 - Physical Force in Defense of a Person.
  1. A person is justified in using non-deadly force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful, non-deadly force by such other person, and he may use a degree of such force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose. However, such force is not justifiable if:
    1. With a purpose to cause physical harm to another person, he provoked the use of unlawful, non-deadly force by such other person; or
    2. He was the initial aggressor, unless after such aggression he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so, but the latter notwithstanding continues the use or threat of unlawful, non-deadly force; or
    3. The force involved was the product of a combat by agreement not authorized by law.
  2. A person is justified in using deadly force upon another person when he reasonably believes that such other person:
    1. Is about to use unlawful, deadly force against the actor or a third person;
    2. Is likely to use any unlawful force against a person present while committing or attempting to commit a burglary;
    3. Is committing or about to commit kidnapping or a forcible sex offense; or
    4. Is likely to use any unlawful force in the commission of a felony against the actor within such actor's dwelling or its curtilage.

    II-a. A person who responds to a threat which would be considered by a reasonable person as likely to cause serious bodily injury or death to the person or to another by displaying a firearm or other means of self-defense with the intent to warn away the person making the threat shall not have committed a criminal act.

  3. A person is not justified in using deadly force on another to defend himself or herself or a third person from deadly force by the other if he or she knows that he or she and the third person can, with complete safety:
    1. Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is within his or her dwelling, its curtilage, or anywhere he or she has a right to be, and was not the initial aggressor; or
    2. Surrender property to a person asserting a claim of right thereto; or
    3. Comply with a demand that he or she abstain from performing an act which he or she is not obliged to perform; nor is the use of deadly force justifiable when, with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily harm, the person has provoked the use of force against himself or herself in the same encounter; or
    4. If he or she is a law enforcement officer or a private person assisting the officer at the officer's direction and was acting pursuant to RSA 627:5, the person need not retreat.

Source. 1971, 518:1. 1981, 347:1, 2, eff. Aug. 16, 1981. 2010, 361:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2011. 2011, 268:1, eff. Nov. 13, 2011.

§627:5 - Physical Force in Law Enforcement.
  1. A law enforcement officer is justified in using non-deadly force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to effect an arrest or detention or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested or detained person, unless he knows that the arrest or detention is illegal, or to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the imminent use of non-deadly force encountered while attempting to effect such an arrest or detention or while seeking to prevent such an escape.
  2. A law enforcement officer is justified in using deadly force only when he reasonably believes such force is necessary:
    1. To defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes is the imminent use of deadly force; or
    2. To effect an arrest or prevent the escape from custody of a person whom he reasonably believes:
      1. Has committed or is committing a felony involving the use of force or violence, is using a deadly weapon in attempting to escape, or otherwise indicates that he is likely to seriously endanger human life or inflict serious bodily injury unless apprehended without delay; and
      2. He had made reasonable efforts to advise the person that he is a law enforcement officer attempting to effect an arrest and has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is aware of these facts.
    3. Nothing in this paragraph constitutes justification for conduct by a law enforcement officer amounting to an offense against innocent persons whom he is not seeking to arrest or retain in custody.
  3. A private person who has been directed by a law enforcement officer to assist him in effecting an arrest or preventing an escape from custody is justified in using:
    1. Non-deadly force when and to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to carry out the officer's direction, unless he believes the arrest is illegal; or
    2. Deadly force only when he reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the imminent use of deadly force, or when the law enforcement officer directs him to use deadly force and he believes such officer himself is authorized to use deadly force under the circumstances.
  4. A private person acting on his own is justified in using non-deadly force upon another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to arrest or prevent the escape from custody of such other whom he reasonably believes to have committed a felony and who in fact has committed that felony: but he is justified in using deadly force for such purpose only when he reasonably believes it necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the imminent use of deadly force.
  5. A guard or law enforcement officer in a facility where persons are confined pursuant to an order of the court or as a result of an arrest is justified in using deadly force when he reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent the escape of any person who is charged with, or convicted of, a felony, or who is committing the felony of escape from official custody as defined in RSA 642:6. The use of non-deadly force by such guards and officers is justified when and to the extent the person effecting the arrest believes it reasonably necessary to prevent any other escape from the facility.
  6. A reasonable belief that another has committed an offense means such belief in facts or circumstances which, if true, would in law constitute an offense by such person. If the facts and circumstances reasonably believed would not constitute an offense, an erroneous though reasonable belief that the law is otherwise does not make justifiable the use of force to make an arrest or prevent an escape.
  7. Use of force that is not justifiable under this section in effecting an arrest does not render illegal an arrest that is otherwise legal and the use of such unjustifiable force does not render inadmissible anything seized incident to a legal arrest.
  8. Deadly force shall be deemed reasonably necessary under this section whenever the arresting law enforcement officer reasonably believes that the arrest is lawful and there is apparently no other possible means of effecting the arrest.

Source. 1971, 518:1. 1981, 373:1-3, eff. Aug. 22, 1981.

§627:6 - Physical Force by Persons With Special Responsibilities.
  1. A parent, guardian or other person responsible for the general care and welfare of a minor is justified in using force against such minor when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or punish such minor's misconduct.
    1. A teacher or person otherwise entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor for special purposes is justified on the premises in using necessary force against any such minor, when the minor creates a disturbance, or refuses to leave the premises or when it is necessary for the maintenance of discipline.
    2. In a child care program licensed or exempt from licensure under RSA 170-E, necessary force shall be limited to the minimum physical contact necessary to protect the child, other children present, the staff, or the general public from harm.
  2. A person responsible for the general care and supervision of an incompetent person is justified in using force for the purpose of safeguarding his welfare, or, when such incompetent person is in an institution for his care and custody, for the maintenance of reasonable discipline in such institution.
  3. The justification extended in paragraphs I, II, and III does not apply to the malicious or reckless use of force that creates a risk of death, serious bodily injury, or substantial pain.
  4. A person authorized by law to maintain decorum or safety in a vessel, aircraft, vehicle, train or other carrier, or in a place where others are assembled may use non-deadly force when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary for such purposes, but he may use deadly force only when he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
  5. A person acting under a reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious bodily injury upon himself may use a degree of force on such person as he reasonably believes to be necessary to thwart such a result.
  6. A licensed physician, or a person acting under his or her direction, or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) working for the department of corrections may use force for the purpose of administering a recognized form of treatment which he or she reasonably believes will tend to promote the physical or mental health of the patient, provided such treatment is administered:
    1. With consent of the patient or, if the patient is a minor or incompetent person, with the consent of the person entrusted with his care and supervision; or
    2. In an emergency when the physician or the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) reasonably believes that no one competent to consent can be consulted and that a reasonable person concerned for the welfare of the patient would consent.

Source. 1971, 518:1. 2000, 225:1. 2002, 112:1, eff. July 2, 2002. 2009, 54:4, 5, eff. July 21, 2009.

§627:7 - Use of Force in Defense of Premises.

A person in possession or control of premises or a person who is licensed or privileged to be thereon is justified in using non-deadly force upon another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or terminate the commission of a criminal trespass by such other in or upon such premises, but he may use deadly force under such circumstances only in defense of a person as prescribed in RSA 627:4 or when he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent an attempt by the trespasser to commit arson.

Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973.

§627:8 - Use of Force in Property Offenses.

A person is justified in using force upon another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent what is or reasonably appears to be an unlawful taking of his property, or criminal mischief, or to retake his property immediately following its taking; but he may use deadly force under such circumstances only in defense of a person as prescribed in RSA 627:4.

Source. 1971, 518:1, eff. Nov. 1, 1973.

§627:8-a - Use of Force by Merchants.
  1. A merchant, or his or her agent, is justified in detaining any person who he or she has reasonable grounds to believe has committed the offense of willful concealment, as defined by RSA 637:3-a, on his or her premises as long as necessary to surrender the person to a peace officer, provided such detention is conducted in a reasonable manner.
  2. A motion picture theater owner, or his or her agent, is justified in detaining any person who he or she has reasonable grounds to believe has committed the offense of unauthorized recording in a motion picture theater on his or her premises, as defined by RSA 644:19, as long as necessary to surrender the person to a peace officer, provided such detention is conducted in a reasonable manner.
  3. Notwithstanding RSA 594:10, a peace officer may arrest a person who has been detained pursuant to this section, without a warrant, if the peace officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed the offense of willful concealment and if the merchant or his or her agent witnessed the offense or if the unlawfully obtained goods or merchandise of the store were recovered from the person.

Source. 1981, 344:2. 2005, 70:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. 2009, 209:8, eff. Jan. 1, 2010. 2012, 205:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2013.

§627:8-b - Detention Powers of County Fair Security Guards.
  1. Any county fair security guard who meets the requirements of paragraph II shall have the power to detain any person who he has reasonable grounds to believe has committed any offense under the laws of the state, on the premises of the county fair association as long as necessary to surrender the person to a peace officer, provided such detention is accomplished in a reasonable manner.
  2. Only security guards who have completed a program of police training for part-time police officers, meeting standards established by the New Hampshire police standards and training council pursuant to RSA 188-F:26 and appropriate to a security guard's exercise of limited police powers, shall have the powers of detention granted in paragraph I.

Source. 1987, 85:1, eff. May 6, 1987.

§627:9 - Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

  1. "Curtilage'' means those outbuildings which are proximately, directly and intimately connected with a dwelling, together with all the land or grounds surrounding the dwelling such as are necessary, convenient, and habitually used for domestic purposes.
  2. "Deadly force'' means any assault or confinement which the actor commits with the purpose of causing or which he knows to create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury. Purposely firing a firearm capable of causing serious bodily injury or death in the direction of another person or at a vehicle in which another is believed to be constitutes deadly force.
  3. "Dwelling'' means any building, structure, vehicle, boat or other place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons, or sections of any place similarly adapted. It is immaterial whether a person is actually present.
  4. "Non-deadly force'' means any assault or confinement which does not constitute deadly force. The act of producing or displaying a weapon shall constitute non-deadly force.

Source. 1971, 518:1. 1981, 347:3, eff. Aug. 16, 1981. 2011, 268:4, eff. Nov. 13, 2011.

CHAPTER 635 - Unauthorized Entries

§635:2 - Criminal Trespass.
  1. A person is guilty of criminal trespass if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place.
  2. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a class B felony for any subsequent offense if the person knowingly or recklessly causes damage in excess of $1,500 to the value of the property of another.
  3. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor if:
    1. The trespass takes place in an occupied structure as defined in RSA 635:1, III; or
    2. The person knowingly enters or remains:
      1. In any secured premises;
      2. In any place in defiance of an order to leave or not to enter which was personally communicated to him by the owner or other authorized person; or
      3. In any place in defiance of any court order restraining him from entering such place so long as he has been properly notified of such order.
  4. All other criminal trespass is a violation.
  5. In this section, "secured premises'' means any place which is posted in a manner prescribed by law or in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, or which is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders.
  6. In this section, "property,'' "property of another,'' and "value'' shall be as defined in RSA 637:2, I, IV, and V, respectively.

Source. 1971, 518:1. 1979, 377:7. 2005, 125:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2006. 2010, 239:2, eff. July 1, 2010.

CHAPTER 650-A - Felonious Use Of Firearms

§650-A:1 - Felonious Use of Firearms.

A person is guilty of a class B felony if he commits or attempts to commit any felony when armed with a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun or any other firearm. For any subsequent offense, a person shall be guilty of a class A felony.

Source. 1977, 403:1, eff. Sept. 3, 1977.

CHAPTER 650-B - Felonious Use Of Body Armor

§650-B:1 - Definition.

In this chapter, "body armor'' means any device designed to be worn on the body which is bullet resistant and is designed and intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection.

Source. 1983, 193:1, eff. Aug. 14, 1983.

§650-B:2 - Felonious Use of Body Armor.
  1. I. A person is guilty of a class B felony if he commits or attempts to commit any felony while using or wearing body armor.
  2. II. Neither the whole nor any part of a sentence of imprisonment imposed for a violation of this section shall be served concurrently with any other term of imprisonment.

Source. 1983, 193:1. 1996, 260:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1997.

CHAPTER 650-C - Negligent Storage Of Firearms

§650-C:1 - Negligent Storage of Firearms.
  1. Nothing in this section shall be construed to reduce or limit any existing right to purchase and own firearms or ammunition, or both, or to provide authority to any state or local agency to infringe upon the privacy of any family, home or business except by lawful warrant.
  2. As used in this section, "child,'' "juvenile'' or "youth'' shall mean any person under 16 years of age.
  3. Any person who stores or leaves on premises under that person's control a loaded firearm, and who knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child's parent or guardian, is guilty of a violation if a child gains access to a firearm and:
    1. The firearm is used in a reckless or threatening manner;
    2. The firearm is used during the commission of any misdemeanor or felony; or
    3. The firearm is negligently or recklessly discharged.
  4. Any person who violates paragraph III shall be fined not more than $1,000.
  5. This section shall not apply whenever any of the following occurs:
    1. The child has completed firearm safety instructions by a certified firearms safety instructor or has successfully completed a certified hunter safety course.
    2. The firearm is kept secured in a locked box, gun safe, or other secure locked space, or in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure, or is secured with a trigger lock or similar device that prevents the firearm from discharging.
    3. The firearm is carried on the person or within such a close proximity thereto so that the individual can readily retrieve and use the firearm as if carried on the person.
    4. The child obtains or obtains and discharges the firearm in a lawful act of self-defense or defense of another person.
    5. The person who keeps a loaded firearm on any premises which are under such person's custody or control has no reasonable expectation, based on objective facts and circumstances, that a child is likely to be present on the premises.
    6. The child obtains the firearm as a result of an illegal entry of any premises by any person or an illegal taking of the firearm from the premises of the owner without permission of the owner.
  6. A parent or guardian of a child who is injured or who dies of an accidental shooting shall be prosecuted under this section only in those instances in which the parent or guardian behaved in a grossly negligent manner.
  7. Licensees shall conspicuously post at each purchase counter the following warning in bold type not less than one inch in height: "IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE OWNER OF A FIREARM SEEK FIREARM SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS FROM A CERTIFIED FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR AND KEEP FIREARMS SECURED FROM UNAUTHORIZED USE.'' A licensee failing to display this warning to the purchaser of a firearm shall be guilty of a violation.

Source. 2000, 267:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.