Several Southern New Hampshire police chiefs joined Governor John Lynch today in calling on lawmakers to uphold the veto of a "dangerous" and "reckless" bill that would allow for the inappropriate use of deadlyÂ force on New Hampshire's streets.
Governor Lynch joined Nashua Police Chief Don Conley, Hudson Chief Jason Lavoie, Goffstown Chief Patrick Sullivan, Merrimack Chief Mark Doyle and New Boston Chief Chris Krajenka and a representative from the New Hampshire State Police for a discussion on Senate Bill 88 and what the impact would be for New Hampshire should the bill become law.
"Law-abiding citizens already have the right to self-defense in their homes, or on the streets to protect themselves and others. This bill is dangerous because it could end up giving a free pass to gang members and other criminals who open fire on each other in our neighborhoods - even if they kill an innocent bystander," Governor Lynch said.
"I believe strongly we should do all we can to protect the public's safety and support all law enforcement officers in their efforts to keep us safe. Rather than standing with law enforcement, some proponents of this bill are putting ideology above public safety," Governor Lynch said. "In New Hampshire, we value public safety and support law enforcement and this bill runs counter to those values."
At the urging of law enforcement, Governor Lynch vetoed Senate Bill 88, which would legalize the inappropriate use of deadly force. Existing law already gives citizens the right to use deadly force in self-defense to protect themselves and protect others.
Supporters of the legislation have not pointed to a single case in New Hampshire where someone has been wrongly prosecuted for using deadly force to protect themselves or others. In fact, current law puts the burden on the state to disprove beyond reasonable doubt claims of self-defense.
Law enforcement, including the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police, the New Hampshire Sheriffs Association, the New Hampshire Police Association and the New Hampshire Troopers Association, all strongly urged Governor Lynch to veto the bill and said if the bill becomes law it would potentially increase violence in public places and make it harder to prosecute criminals.
"The current law works for the citizens of this state, and to make a change like this will create a serious public safety issue that could really lead to additional violence on our streets and in our neighborhoods," said Nashua Police Chief Don Conley. "Law enforcement leaders from across the state stand united in our opposition to this bill and it is our hope that our legislators would listen to us and sustain the Governor's veto."
The legislature has scheduled a vote to override Governor Lynch's veto for Wednesday, September 7, 2011.
"As Governor, I have made public safety a top priority. Expanding the use of deadly force is dangerous and reckless and threatens to undo all the progress we have made on public safety," Governor Lynch said. "We should be supporting law enforcement and public safety, not undermining them."