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House Reverses Course, Supports Expanded Use Of Deadly Force

By Anne Saunders,

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ple during a state of emergency.

"Nothing should chip away at our freedom," argued Rep. Lynne Ober, R-Hudson. If weapons had been confiscated centuries ago, "we might have been singing God Save the Queen," she said.

A Senate-passed bill gave the House a second shot at expanding the right to use of deadly force. It passed, 193-134.

The bill would allow people to use guns or other weapons in self-defense anywhere where they have a right to be. It would remove the requirement that a person retreat when it's safe to do so.

Gov. John Lynch has serious concerns about the bill, according to his spokeswoman, Pamela Walsh. If the bill reaches him, Lynch would consult with the attorney general and police before deciding whether to veto it, she said.

Current law allows people to shoot intruders who threaten them in their homes. They also can shoot to protect themselves or another person from a deadly attack, kidnapping or attempted sexual assault. But people are required to retreat from other types of attacks in public when they can do so safely.

Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and the state's police chiefs opposed the change. They argued current law provides sufficient protection to people who act in self-defense.

"This bill is unnecessary and creates the potential that some people would resort to deadly force when they might otherwise have used non-deadly force or retreated with complete safety," Dover Rep. William Knowles, a Democrat, said.

"New Hampshire law is clear that you do not have to retreat unless you can do so with complete safety," said Wolfeboro Rep. Stanley Stevens, a Republican, arguing the legislation was not needed.

But supporters argued someone confronted by the threat of violence shouldn't have to decide whether it's safe to retreat or not.

"When you're confronted with force you need to be able to react immediately," Rep. Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, said.