Ammunition Regulation in New Hampshire

New Hampshire prohibits any person from transferring ammunition of any kind to a person under the age of 16, other than her or his own child, grandchild, or ward.1

New Hampshire law prohibits any person from attempting to use or using, in the course of committing any misdemeanor or felony, any teflon-coated or armor-piercing bullet or cartridge or any bullet or cartridge that contains an explosive substance in the projectile and is designed to explode upon impact.2

Among other things, New Hampshire law does not:

  • Require a license for the sale of ammunition;
  • Require sellers of ammunition to maintain a record of the purchasers; or
  • Prohibit persons who are ineligible to possess firearms from possessing ammunition.

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 644:15. This prohibition does not apply to: 1) individuals instructing children in the safe use of firearms during a supervised firearms training program, if the child’s parent or guardian has granted permission for the child to participate in the program; 2) licensed hunters accompanying children while lawfully taking wildlife; and 3) individuals supervising children using firearms during a lawful shooting event or activity. Id. ⤴︎
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:18. ⤴︎

Background Checks in New Hampshire

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

New Hampshire is a “partial point of contact” state for NICS. New Hampshire law authorizes, but does not require, the New Hampshire Department of Safety (“DOS”) to act as a point of contact for NICS.1 DOS has chosen to act as a point of contact for handgun sales, but not long gun sales. This means that, in New Hampshire, firearms dealers selling handguns must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting DOS, but firearm dealers selling long guns must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2

For a discussion of persons prohibited by federal or state law from possessing or purchasing a firearm, see the New Hampshire Prohibited Purchasers Generally section.

New Hampshire does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm.  See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159-D:1. ⤴︎
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics/about-nics ⤴︎

Child Access Prevention in New Hampshire

New Hampshire has established the offense of “negligent storage of firearms.” However, a person may be guilty of this offense only if the firearm was used in a reckless or threatening manner, used during the commission of any misdemeanor or felony, or negligently or recklessly discharged.1 In addition, ALL of the following statements must be true for a person to be guilty of this offense:

  • The person stored or left a loaded firearm on premises under that person’s control;
  • A person under the age of 16 gained access to the firearm; and
  • The adult knew or should have known that a person under the age of 16 was likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of that child’s parent or guardian.2

See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 650-C:1. Moreover, a person is not guilty of the offense of negligent storage of a firearm if the: 1) child has completed a firearm safety or hunter safety course; 2) firearm is kept in a secure locked space or is secured with a trigger lock or similar device that prevents the firearm from discharging; 3) firearm is carried on the person or close enough that the person can readily retrieve the firearm; 4) child obtains the firearm in lawful self-defense or defense of another; 5) person has no reasonable expectation that a child is likely to be on the premises; or 6) child obtains the firearm due to illegal entry of the premises or illegal taking of the firearm from the premises. Id. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎

Concealed Weapons Permitting in New Hampshire

See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

In 2017, New Hampshire repealed its law requiring people carrying hidden, loaded guns in public to have a license. Anyone, including non-residents, may carry a concealed firearm without a license provided that the individual is not prohibited from possessing firearms under federal or New Hampshire law.

Individuals who wish to obtain a license to carry may still do so, however.1 New Hampshire is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement2 must issue a license to carry a loaded handgun if “it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property or has any proper purpose.” Hunting, target shooting, or self-defense is considered a proper purpose.3 In addition, “[n]o photograph or fingerprint shall be required or used as a basis to grant, deny, or renew a license to carry for a resident or non-resident, unless requested by the applicant.”4 Non-residents may submit applications to the division of state police.5

In 2017, the state repealed the requirement that the applicant is a suitable person to be licensed.6

Firearm Safety Training

New Hampshire law does not require applicants for a license to carry a firearm to undergo firearm safety training or otherwise demonstrate knowledge of firearms safety.

Duration & Renewal

In 2017, the legislature lengthened the period of validity of a New Hampshire concealed weapons license from four to five years from the date of issue. “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.”7

Disclosure or Use of Information

New Hampshire law states: “All papers and records, including applications, pertaining to the issuance of… licenses [to carry loaded handguns] are subject to inspection only by law enforcement officials…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.”8

Reciprocity

The director of the division of state police is required to negotiate and enter into reciprocal agreements with other jurisdictions to recognize New Hampshire concealed carry permits. The director must apply to every jurisdiction with which New Hampshire does not have a reciprocity agreement, at least once every 5 years to obtain recognition in those jurisdictions. See the New Hampshire Department of Safety web site for a list of the specific states with which New Hampshire has reciprocity.

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:6 ⤴︎
  2. Local law enforcement includes “[t]he selectmen of a town or , 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…or the director of state police, or some person designated by such director. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:6(I)(a). ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:6(II). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension and disqualification information, are detailed at N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 159:6, 159:6-b, 159:6-c. ⤴︎
  5. For regulations regarding non-resident licenses, see N.H. Code Admin. R. Ann. Saf-C 2101.01-2106.01. ⤴︎
  6. Id. Before the state repealed the suitable person requirement, the New Hampshire Supreme Court had held that an applicant may be unsuitable if he or she has a “significant and unexplained arrest history.” See, e.g., Garand v. Town of Exeter, 977 A.2d 540, 544 (N.H. 2009). ⤴︎
  7. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:6(I)(b). ⤴︎
  8. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:6-a. ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in New Hampshire

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

New Hampshire prohibits any person from selling, advertising or exposing for sale, or having in one’s possession with intent to sell, a handgun without a local license to sell handguns.1 However, a person who is not licensed to sell handguns and not engaged in the business of selling handguns may sell a handgun to a person who is personally known to her or him or who is licensed to sell handguns.2 A license to sell a handgun may be obtained from the selectmen of a town or the chief of police of a city, and remains in effect for up to three years.3 Licensees must:

  • Conduct business in the building designated in the license or at certain sporting shows or collectors’ meetings;
  • Display the license on the premises, where it can be easily read; and
  • Deliver firearms only to purchasers who provide evidence of their identity or to purchasers personally known to the licensee.4

Failure to comply with these conditions may result in revocation of the license to sell handguns.5

Licensees must 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.”6

New Hampshire does not require sellers of rifles or shotguns to obtain a license.

For information about the laws:

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:10. ⤴︎
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:14. ⤴︎
  3. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159:8. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 159:8, 159:8-b. ⤴︎
  6. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 650-C:1(VII). ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in New Hampshire

 

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

New Hampshire law, unlike federal law, does not prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition.

New Hampshire prohibits a defendant subject to a domestic violence protective order from purchasing, receiving, or possessing any and all firearms and ammunition for the duration of the order.1 If there is probable cause to believe that firearms and ammunition are kept on the defendant’s premises, the court may issue a search warrant authorizing a peace officer to seize any and all firearms and ammunition.2 New Hampshire law also includes a specific provision penalizing 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.3.

In issuing a domestic violence protective order, a New Hampshire court must direct the defendant to relinquish to a peace officer any and all firearms and ammunition in the control, ownership or possession of the defendant or any other person on behalf of the defendant. The firearms and ammunition must remain relinquished for the duration of the protective order.4 In issuing a temporary domestic violence protective order, a court may (but need not) include a similar command.5 Under a law enacted in 2014, a person who knowingly violates any term of a temporary domestic violence restraining order by means of the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, is guilty of the crime of domestic violence.6

A person who does any of the following against a family or household member7 or intimate partner8 is also guilty of domestic violence under New Hampshire law:

  • Uses or attempts to use physical force, or by physical conduct threatens to use a deadly weapon for the purpose of placing another in fear of imminent bodily injury;
  • Threatens to use a deadly weapon against another person for the purpose to terrorize that person;
  • Threatens to use a deadly weapon to cause another to submit to sexual contact and the victim believes the actor has the present ability to carry out the threat;
  • Confines another unlawfully, by means of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, so as to interfere substantially with his or her physical movement;
  • Uses physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon against another to block that person’s access to any cell phone, telephone, or electronic communication device with the purpose of preventing, obstructing, or interfering with: (1) The report of any criminal offense, bodily injury, or property damage to a law enforcement agency; or (2) A request for an ambulance or emergency medical assistance to any law enforcement agency or emergency medical provider.9

If a person uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime of domestic violence, they are guilty of a felony. Otherwise a crime of domestic violence is generally punishable as a misdemeanor.10

Whenever any peace officer has probable cause to believe that a person has been abused, New Hampshire law requires the officer to use all means within reason to prevent further abuse, including confiscating any firearms and ammunition in the defendant’s control, ownership or possession.11

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:5(II). ⤴︎
  2. Id. In addition, following a defendant’s arrest for violating a temporary or permanent protective order, the arresting officer must seize any firearms or ammunition in the control, ownership or possession of the defendant. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:9(I)(b). ⤴︎
  3. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159-D:3. ⤴︎
  4. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:5(I). ⤴︎
  5. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:4(I). ⤴︎
  6. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(I)(j). ⤴︎
  7. “Family or household member” means 1) the actor’s spouse or former spouse; 2) a person with whom the actor is cohabiting as a spouse, parent, or guardian; 3) a person with whom the actor cohabited as a spouse, parent, or guardian but no longer shares the same residence; 4) an adult with whom the actor is related by blood or marriage; or 5) a person with whom the actor shares a child in common. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(III)(a). ⤴︎
  8. “Intimate partner” means a person with whom the actor is currently or was formerly involved in a romantic relationship, regardless of whether or not the relationship was sexually consummated. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(III)(b). ⤴︎
  9. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(I). ⤴︎
  10. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 631:2-b(II). ⤴︎
  11. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 173-B:10(I)(a). ⤴︎