New Hampshire Town Allows Workers to Carry Guns to Work

N.H. town allows all employees to carry guns at work.

July 2, 2010— -- The manager of the small New Hampshire town of Nottingham doesn't understand all the fuss surrounding the decision to allow town employees to bring their guns to work.

"Everyone wants to know if I'm packing," Charles Brown told "Honestly, all the hoopla is over the top."

For Brown and other officials in the town of 4,800, it's a matter of constitutional rights.

Under the old legislation, all Nottingham employees except police officers were banned from brining their guns onto town property during work hours. The town's selectmen voted last week to allow guns on municipal property, and the change went into effect on Thursday.

Nottingham isn't alone. Across the nation, states increasingly are loosening gun laws in a trend that legal experts predict will intensify following Monday's Supreme Court decision supporting the right to keep and bear arms.

The ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago will only open more state gun-control laws to legal challenges, according to experts. Two years ago, the high court decided that a similar law in the District of Columbia violated the Second Amendment, a precedent that was extended to state and local gun laws around the country.

"The McDonald decision will create a whole new economic growth industry of Second Amendment litigation," Stanford University law professor Robert Weisberg told "If you want your son or daughter to have a lucrative income, tell your kid to grow up to be a Second Amendment lawyer."

Floridians will also be able to carry their guns to their jobs, as long as they lock them up inside their vehicles starting today. People who choose to carry a gun must also have a concealed weapons permit. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has challenged the new law in federal court and asked a judge for an injunction. A decision is pending.

When Virginia's legislature recently passed a bill allowing people to carry guns in bars if they have a permit, police chiefs opposed it, but Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law. Tennessee passed a law similar to Virginia's despite the veto of Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Guns Laws Challenged Nationwide

Virginia's former governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat, had vetoed a similar bill in 2009. McDonnell, a Republican, signed the bill despite calls for a veto by the state association of police chiefs.

In Georgia, lawmakers recently lifted a prohibition against drinking alcohol while carrying a gun in public. They also made it legal for people to carry guns in some areas of airports.

Montana has enacted a law called the "Firearms Freedom Act," which exempts guns and munitions made, sold and used within the state from federal gun regulations. Similar laws were passed this year in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

In Indiana, a new law that went into effect Thursday today allows workers to keep guns locked in their vehicles while parked on their employers' property. Businesses will no longer be able to prohibit workers from keeping firearms in a locked trunk or glove compartment. The law includes exemptions for schools, prisons and other facilities.

Supporters said gun owners have rights under the Second Amendment and the Indiana Constitution to carry guns to work. But opponents fear the law could lead to workplace violence.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Brinegar told that businesses prohibited employees from bringing guns to work because they are charged with providing a safe work environment.

"I'm a gun owner myself, but I never brought it to work," he said. "As a business advocacy organization, our employers and our membership overwhelmingly believe that they ought to have complete say and control over what occurs on their property as it pertains to guns."

Brinegar said a major steel mill in Indiana has vowed to keep in place its ban on handguns in the workplace. The chamber could join the litigation if a worker at the mills challenges the ban in court, he said.

New Gun Laws Can Expect Legal Challenges

Temple University law professor David Kairys predicted that many local regulations will fall under legal scrutiny. Pro-gun advocates have been emboldened by legal victories.

"The two staunchest regulators of handguns – two of the places that have suffered the most from handgun deaths – are Chicago and the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court now has thrown out those two," he told

He added, "There's a very particular handgun problem. It is the most severe, consistent public health problem for cities over the last several decades and the Supreme Court is incapacitating local governments that want and have a duty to do something about this."

In Nottingham, Brown said he doesn't expect the new law to translate into more town employees bringing weapons to work. He said there are 19 full- time employees and about 35 part-timers. "I don't see it happening," he said. "I don't expect a big change."

The handgun ban for town workers was implemented decades ago after an employee pulled a gun on her former husband, he said.

"She had quite a temper and she brandished a weapon," said Brown, who owns several handguns. "That's what prompted the policy. But I don't think town employees are going to start packing now. This is almost laughable."