Gun laws in New Hampshire

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Location of New Hampshire in the United States

Gun laws in New Hampshire regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the state of New Hampshire in the United States.[1][2][3]

Summary table[edit]

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant statutes Notes
State Permit to Purchase? No No NHRS XII §159:14
Firearm registration? No No
Assault weapon law? No No
Magazine Capacity Restriction? No No
Owner license required? No No
Carry License issued? No Yes NHRS XII §159:6 License is shall-issue.
Open carry? Yes Yes NHRS XII §159:6
Handgun open carry without license except in a motor vehicle. Loaded long guns prohibited from motor vehicles.
State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes NHRS XII §159:26 Includes knives.
NFA weapons restricted? No No
Peaceable Journey laws? No No
Background checks required for private sales? No No

Concealed and open carry[edit]

Although New Hampshire is a statutory "Shall-issue state" for a license to carry a concealed handgun, due to the "suitable person" language in NHRS XII §159:6 it is in reality a de facto "may-issue" state. There is no definition of "suitable person" in New Hampshire law. A series of court cases beginning in 2007 with Bleiler v. Chief, Dover Police have been used to define what a suitable person is.[4][5][6] Because there is no statutory definition, the court can interpret the phrase "suitable person" however they wish and have been slowly expanding the number of individuals who are not considered a "suitable person." Some police chiefs have been following this expanded definition of suitable person. However many other chiefs adhere to the notion that only those who are prohibited from possessing a firearm under NH or federal law are not "suitable persons."

The act of open carrying of firearms by non-felons is generally permissible.[7]

No license is required to openly carry a firearm while on foot, but carry of a loaded pistol or revolver in a motor vehicle, openly or concealed, does require a license.

Note that the NH license is issued for carry of a "pistol or revolver," and is not a license to carry "weapons" as exists in some other states. The NH license is issued by the local mayor, selectmen, or police dept at a cost of $10 for residents, and by the NH State Police at a cost of $100 for non-residents (changed from $20 on July 1, 2009). The term of issue of the license is four years for non-residents, and at least four years for residents.[8] Turn around time is generally 1 – 2 weeks, with 14 days being the maximum time allowed by law.[9]

New Hampshire has no laws restricting the age at which a person may possess and carry firearms.[10][11][12]

On June 2, 2016, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, in Bach v. New Hampshire Dept. of Safety, No. 2014–0721, 2016 WL 3086130, threw out a rule imposed by concealed carry permit issuing authorities that had required non-residents to have a permit to carry issued by the state in which they resided. The basis for invalidating such rule was that it denied a New Hampshire non-resident permit to residents of States that are effectively "non-issue", such as New Jersey, Hawaii, and others.


  1. ^ "State Gun Laws: New Hampshire", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  2. ^ "New Hampshire State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  3. ^ "New Hampshire Statues – Chapter 159: Pistols and Revolvers". Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ Doyon v. Hooksett Police Department
  7. ^ Pro-Gun New Hampshire - Frequently Asked Questions about NH Gun Laws
  8. ^ "New Hampshire State Police – Pistol and Revolver Licensing". July 1, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ "New Hampshire State Police – Permits and Licensing FAQs". Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ "OCDO – NH State Summary". Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ "NH State Summary – Minimum Age to Purchase or Possess". LCAV. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ "New Hampshire Statutes – Chapter 159: Pistols and Revolvers". Retrieved November 23, 2011.