New Hampshire has reserved to the state broad authority to regulate firearms. Section 159:26(I) of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes provides that
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.
Pursuant to section 159:26(II), local ordinances that relate to the “sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearm components, ammunition, firearms supplies or knives” became void on July 18, 2003.
Section 159:26(I) expressly preserves local government authority to adopt non-discriminatory zoning ordinances and to exercise its property rights concerning the management of wildlife on land it owns and controls.1
As of the date this page was updated, the Giffords Law Center is not aware of any case law interpreting section 159:26. However, in State v. Jenkins,2 the Supreme Court of New Hampshire had occasion to review a local by-law that prohibited hunting and the discharge of a firearm in the entire town unless written permission of the owner was obtained. Applying New Hampshire common law preemption jurisprudence, the court held that the by-law was invalid because it was inconsistent with state hunting statutes that allowed the discharge of firearms on certain other properties at certain times of year.3
Other Relevant Provisions
The ability of local governments in New Hampshire to impose limits on noise and noise pollution from shooting ranges is limited by sections 159-B:1-159-B-8 of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes.
For state laws prohibiting local units of government (i.e., cities and counties) from filing certain types of lawsuits against the gun industry, see our page on Immunity Statutes in New Hampshire.