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    Default Knife Rights bill hearing Thursday, January 28, 2010

    As a Charter Member of PGNH, I received this as an Email last night and pass it along, unread and w/o comment, for the information of those in NH.

    Knife Rights bill hearing this Thursday, January 28

    [Posted January 24, 2010, at 11:00 p.m.] HB 1665, the Knife Rights bill sponsored by Pro-Gun New Hampshire senior advisor Rep. Jenn Coffey, will be heard by the NH House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee this Thursday, January 28, at 1:30 p.m., in Room 204 of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) behind the State House. Please show up and support this bill.

    For some reason Gun Owners of New Hampshire opposes this bill. We suggest you read the bill, read the GO-NH argument against it, and read the PGNH arguments in favor of it Ė and then decide for yourself. References: (a) the article by Evan Nappen that follows, which includes the GO-NH argument; (b) the article published earlier on this website, at http://pgnh.org/protecting_your_knif...ennifer_coffey ; (c) the website www.knifelawonline.com ; and (d) the bill text itself, at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legi...10/HB1665.html .

    GO-NH JEOPARDIZES KNIFE RIGHTS BILL
    By Evan F. Nappen, Esq. - January 24, 2010

    Gun Owners of New Hampshire (GO-NH) is the NRA State Association in New Hampshire. GO-NH has sent out the following post card "Minuteman Alert":

    "Minuteman Alert HB 1665 A Call to Arms!

    On Thursday January 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm in room 204 of LOB (33 N State Street, Concord, NH), the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will be hearing HB 1665. The additional penalties found in this bill are unnecessary because criminal use of these self defense tools are covered by many other laws. If the bill becomes law and you are charged with use of any of the listed self defense tools these additional penalties may apply. Remember we do not have adequate Castle Doctrine in this state. See http://www.seacoastonline.com/articl...news-911129979 Remove the penalties or ITL the bill! Both RSA 159:16 and RSA 159:19-a should be repealed. We have enough laws to cover the criminal misuse of any of these items. For more information, go to Go-NH, Inc. http://gonh.org"

    Whoa! HB 1665, the Knife Rights bill, DEcriminalizes automatic knives (switchblades) and double-edged knives. It says that these knives will now be legal; to make the bill palatable to the legislature, it adds that if you use one on a person with intent to commit a crime, you'll get extra jail time. (That's the "additional penalties" that GO-NH complains about.) GO-NH and Pro-Gun New Hampshire (PGNH) should be on the same side on Second Amendment matters; we can't understand why GO-NH has taken a backwards view on this bill.

    If the Knife Rights bill could pass without its Section II - the "additional penalties," applied to switchblades in the same way as GO-NH approved for sword canes in 1992 - that would be fine. However, the recent highly publicized murder in Mt. Vernon, NH, in which edged weapons were used, would make it politically unlikely for a simple repeal to pass without addressing criminal use. The bottom line is that Section II of the Knife Rights bill makes it politically viable to pass and dramatically improves its chance of success in the legislature. This gives the pro-Second Amendment forces the greatest opportunity for victory.

    The Knife Rights bill is heavily supported by other national and state knife and gun organizations, including Second Amendment Sisters, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, The Firearms Coalition, The Hard Corps, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, Pro-Gun New Hampshire, Americans for Tax Reform, New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, New Hampshire Arms Collectors Association, New Hampshire Firearms Dealers Association, Knife Rights, Inc, American Knife and Tool Institute, BLADE magazine, GUNS magazine; Sword Forum, American Handgunner magazine, Knife World magazine, and Cutlery News Journal. (See: http://www.knifelawonline.com/what-p...re-saying.html)

    This Knife Rights bill defends the Second Amendment by further protecting "arms" possessed and carried by law abiding citizens, including certain types of knives. Under current New Hampshire law if you carry, possess with intent to sell, or sell one of these knives in New Hampshire you face 12 months in jail.

    New Hampshire's current law does not make any sense. For example, under the current law, hunters and fishers are exempt for carrying the prohibited knives while hunting or fishing, but not for carrying them back and forth to the place of hunting or fishing. Additionally, no person can sell a hunter or fisher - or even a police officer! - one of the prohibited knives, nor can the hunter or fisher sell one or even possess it with intent to sell it. The current law sets a trap for hunters and fishers.

    Honest gun owners could also lose their right to carry a firearm for a conviction under the current anti-knife law. The issuing authority may claim that person is not a "suitable person" due to a conviction for a "weapons" offense.

    Gun and knife dealers in NH have been charged under this unfair law and spent thousands of dollars to defend themselves. One case involved a federal firearms dealer (FFL) selling a knife to person the dealer knew was a law enforcement officer from town. The dealer knew it was legal for the law enforcement officer to have the knife under NH law. Unfortunately, it was unlawful for the dealer to sell it to the law enforcement officer. The dealer was charged, convicted, and his entire inventory seized. The current anti-knife law is still a threat to unsuspecting dealers.

    The new NH bill will help to preempt the strong anti-knife movement which is coming to America from the UK. (See: http://www.knifecrimes.org )

    This NH bill has strong bi-partisan support. BOTH the House Floor Majority Leader (Democrat) and the House Floor Minority Leader (Republican) are co-sponsors of the bill.

    The bill removes the Malum Prohibitum offense on certain knives and creates in Section II of the bill a specific intent crime punishing use against a person with the intent to commit a crime.

    The claims of the GO-NH "Minuteman Alert" only apply to Section II of the Knife Rights Bill and can be summarized as three issues:

    I) If one is charged with "use" additional penalties "may" apply

    II) New Hampshire does not have an adequate "Castle Doctrine," and the GO-NH alert references a newspaper article regarding a criminal case.

    III) Additional criminal penalties are "unnecessary."

    These claims are "Red Herrings," and important information has been left out:

    I) "Use" is only one of three mandatory elements that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction before there are any additional penalties. It must be "used" against a person with the intent to commit a crime. This is a specific intent crime! This is not a general intent crime. HONEST gun owners and self defenders will not be hurt. If their specific intent was to defend themselves, then it was not to commit a crime.

    THE STATE HAS TO PROVE THE SPECIFIC INTENT TO COMMIT A CRIME.

    Furthermore, In order to be criminally convicted under the knife rights bill, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt three elements of the law.

    1. One must use the knife! Merely carrying it is not enough.

    2. One must use the knife on another person. Using it to gut a deer, cut a rope, open a box or any other use not on another person is not enough.

    3. One must use the knife on another person with the intent of committing a crime. Using the knife to cut a pinned person free from a safety belt, to defend one's self, or any other use on a person without the intent of committing a crime is not enough.

    II) "Don't pass a good law, because there is a bad one that needs fixing!" That is essentially the absurd argument that GO-NH makes against the New Hampshire Knife Rights bill. They claim NH has a seriously flawed "Castle Doctrine" and Section II of the Knife Rights bill therefore must be stopped. First of all, what is the "Castle Doctrine?" According to Wikipedia, "Castle Doctrine" "...designates one's place of residence (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as one's car or place of work) as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack." The idea is that "one's home is one's castle." The GO-NH Alert references a newspaper article about a case of a person walking down the street who produces a knife in response to being followed by strangers who turned out to be law enforcement officers. This case has nothing to with "Castle Doctrine."

    According to the GO-NH referenced seacoastonline.com story the following was reported:

    A Kensington man was found guilty of criminal threatening for holding an open pocket knife at his side while asking two people who were walking behind him at midnight, "Why are you following me?"

    The pair walking behind Dustin Almon, 28, of 27 Wild Rose Lane, were state Liquor Enforcement cops, both in plain clothes without any indicators that they were members of law enforcement, according to testimony during a Thursday Portsmouth District Court trial. Both were also carrying concealed handguns and Tasers, they testified.

    One of them, Officer Anthony Cattabriga, said he was walking behind Almon on Chapel Street on Nov. 8, 2008, when Almon turned around three times to look at him and a new officer he was training. It was dark and Almon was twenty feet away when he displayed a knife with a two-inch blade the third time he turned around, said Cattabriga.

    "He pointed it down by his side," the liquor officer testified, while demonstrating with Almon's seized pocket knife.

    When he responded by yelling "police," Almon folded the knife, clipped it to his belt and complied with all subsequent police orders, Cattabriga testified.

    Under the Knife Rights bill Mr. Almon could not be successfully prosecuted for a number of reasons. First of all, he did not have a "switch knife, dagger, dirk or stiletto." But even if an aggressive prosecutor wanted to claim that Mr. Almon's 2 inch bladed folding knife was a "switch knife, dagger, dirk or stiletto" a conviction could still not be had.

    In order to be criminally convicted under Section II of the Knife Rights bill, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt three elements of the law. As discussed above, the knife must be "used" against a person with the intent to commit a crime. Section II of the Knife Rights bill is a specific intent crime. Because Mr. Almon's specific intent was to defend himself, then it was not to commit a crime. The burden of proof is on the state to prove the specific intent to commit a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is unlike the charge of criminal threatening, which is a general intent crime.

    If anything, NH's criminal threatening law is the problem, not "Castle Doctrine." This plainly shows how GO-NH does not understand the legal issues it claims to be afraid of. Criminal threatening could be amended so that the mere showing or pointing of a weapon does not violate its provisions. But that is a separate issue. A possible flaw in that law is hardly a valid reason to stop a good law from passing.

    III) The Knife Rights Bill sends a strong message distinguishing honest citizens from criminals. In other words, GO-NH chose to ignore Resolution 6 put forward by Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition which was adopted at the 2009 Gun Rights Policy Conference which states:

    Now therefore be it resolved by the delegates assembled at the Gun Rights Policy Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, this 27th day of September, 2009 that: We support the repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act and any other federal, state or local laws and regulations banning tools and weapons rather than addressing behavior.

    Representative Coffey's Knife Rights bill is directly on point for Resolution 6. It protects honest citizens, yet penalizes criminal behavior. These penalties are not new. The penalties already are found in NH Law under the RSA 159:19a, which was passed in 1992. GO-NH supported HB1305 in that year, when the penalty was new! Attorney Al Rubega represented GO-NH on HB1305 and testified in support of it. The original HB1305 may still be viewed on line at:

    https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/leg...92/HB1305.html

    The current bill follows the same successful legislative path of HB 1305 that legalized sword canes and pistol canes in 1992. Section II of the current Knife Rights bill makes it a criminal offense to use such a weapon against a person with the intent to commit a crime. It protects honest citizens, yet penalizes criminals.

    If the Knife Rights bill could pass without Section II, that would be fine. However, the recent highly publicized murder in Mt. Vernon, NH, in which edged weapons were used, would make it politically unlikely for a simple repeal to pass without addressing criminal use. The bottom line is that Section II of Knife Rights bill makes it politically viable to pass and dramatically improves its chances of success. This gives the pro-Second Amendment forces the greatest opportunity for victory.

    One would think that GO-NH would be politically astute enough to realize that fact. Instead they send out an alert that jeopardizes the Knife Rights Bill. We can't understand why.

    GO-NH has failed to properly inform members on this issue. If you are upset about your NRA State Association doing this, contact the NRA and tell them. Call NRA-ILA at (800) 392-VOTE (8683), Monday-Friday, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., EST. or email via https://secure.nraila.org/Contact.aspx.
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for sharing, LenS. Any rumors/scuttlebutt of something similar here in MA?

  3. #3
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    HB1665 passed the House in a unanimous consent calendar vote.

    On to the Senate!

    http://www.nhliberty.org/bills/view/2010/HB1665

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