Alstead, NH- A conflict at a New Hampshire recreation area where two people were open carrying led to the town wiping out all of its local gun restrictions dating back to 1763.
Last weekend, the town of Alstead held an annual event at Vilas Pool locally referred to as “Vilas Pool Day”, a town-owned recreation area. Two people were at this event open carrying sidearms, which is generally not considered unusual as New Hampshire is well known as an open carry state. A member of Vilas Pool’s board of directors approached the men and instructed them to remove their firearms from the recreation area, citing a no-firearms policy at Vilas Pool.
The men complied with the organizer’s order, but Gordon Kemp, one of the open carriers, was doubtful of the Vilas Pool policy establishing the area as a gun-free zone. After the event, Kemp checked New Hampshire’s law regarding firearms on public property. While the Vilas Pool recreation area was donated as a gift, it is town property.
A provision in state law, RSA 159:26, states that “Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, 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.” RSA 159:26 effectively prohibits political subdivisions in New Hampshire from passing any policies or ordinances that override state law.
Kemp brought this information to Chris Rietmann, one of Alstead’s selectmen, on Tuesday before a scheduled selectboard meeting. Rietmann agreed that RSA 159:26 would nullify the gun ban at Vilas Pool, and he searched for documentation of a policy prohibiting firearms on town property. He was unable to find any, and he noted that no one else has been able to produce any documentation. “There’s just sort of been this common belief that at some point, some board of selectmen had signed this,” Rietmann told Truth In Media’s Annabelle Bamforth.
The meeting ended with the selectboard unanimously passing a motion to emphasize New Hampshire’s provision, nullifying all previous gun restrictions that violate state law. The motion reads:
“It is moved that the Board of Selectmen as stated in NH RSA 159:26 hereby declare any ordinance, policy or any other act passed by any previous Board of Selectmen that restricts in any way firearms or ammunition on the property of or within the Town of Alstead to be null and void.”
Both Kemp and Rietmann pointed out that the entire ordeal was handled amicably by all parties. “To me it was simply making sure that our town follows New Hampshire law,” Rietmann told Bamforth regarding the motion’s passage.
“I wanted to make sure we eliminated any potential violations of the right to bear arms throughout the history of the town,” Rietmann continued. “If this thing got passed in 2007, we took care of it; if there’s something lingering somewhere from some meeting in 1851, we took care of it.”