New Hampshire Gun Laws

Firearm Laws in New Hampshire

Some state laws state that carrying any weapon requires a special permit, but New Hampshire only issues licenses to carry revolvers or pistols. No licenses are required to carry firearms if unloaded, but if the firearms are loaded when being carried either on the body or in a vehicle–concealed or not–requires that licenses be necessary.

New Hampshire LawsThe local police department handles the issuance of these licenses at a ten-dollar fee for New Hampshire residents and a one-hundred-dollar fee for non-residents. These licenses last a maximum of four years for non-residents and a 4-year minimum for resident licenses. The waiting time for receiving a license can be as much as fourteen days.

New Hampshire is located in the Northeast, surrounded by Maine to the east, Canada to the north, Vermont to the west, and Massachusetts to the south. New Hampshire is the home of the first primary during Presidential election years. Open carry is legal in New Hampshire even without a valid license to carry, but a license is needed to carry in a vehicle.

Purchasing Firearms in New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not require a license to purchase handguns, rifles, or shotguns. Selling a firearm to an individual previously convicted of a felon is illegal. It is also illegal to transfer or sell any handgun to a minor. There are exceptions to this rule, including receiving a handgun as a gift from a legal guardian, heir, or parent.

Possessing Firearms

New Hampshire does not require that its citizens acquire licenses before possessing shotguns, rifles, or handguns. It is illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to possess, control, or own a firearm. When an individual is charged with a felony in New Hampshire, he or she will be asked by the court to yield all forms of ammunition and firearms to the state.

Carrying Firearms

Because carrying loaded handguns in motor vehicles is illegal, all concealed weapons must have a license. However, the state of New Hampshire has set exceptions to this rule. These include carrying and having a loaded handgun in a place of dwelling, home, or business; carrying a loaded handgun for law enforcement or military employment while on active duty; and participating in an organized meeting where handguns are to be received and purchased. If a handgun is unloaded or secured in a casing, carrying the firearm on the body or in a motor vehicle is legal without first acquiring a license.

Acquiring a license to carry a concealed weapon can be done through an application to the mayor, the police chief, or selectmen of the town of residency. The authority will authorize the license if the application is found to be for a proper purpose where others cannot accidentally be injured. New Hampshire law states proper purposes, including self-defense, target shooting, and hunting. The license will be issued to the applicant, and a copy will be kept by the mayor, selectmen, or police chief who authorized the license. When an application has been denied, the reasons for denial will be outlined in written form and presented to the individual. When a non-resident acquires a license, he or she must comply with all New Hampshire laws for gun safety.

Constitutional Carry

New Hampshire permits anyone over 18 and may legally possess a firearm to carry a handgun concealed or openly without a permit.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

New Hampshire generally allows carrying loaded handguns in vehicles without a license. Loaded long guns may not be carried in vehicles.

Can You Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol?

Yes. New Hampshire has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry it in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s, unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant – You are prohibited from carrying into these areas. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from carrying it while You consume alcohol.

Self-defense Laws

New Hampshire has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat when attacked in any place. You have a legal right to be, and You may use deadly force in self-defense if You reasonably believe it is imminently necessary to prevent death or SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling, residence, or occupied motor vehicle.

Open Carry (Without a Valid Permit/License)

Open carry is legal. New Hampshire has permitless carry. Anyone legally possessing a firearm can carry open or concealed without any permit/license. The state preempts all firearm laws, and local authorities cannot have laws/ordinances against open carry. Remember that if You enter any property and the owner/responsible person asks You to leave, You must do so. Failure to leave can result in trespass charges. The minimum age to open carry is 18.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, New Hampshire will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes New Hampshire’s license:

“No nonresident holding a current and valid license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in the state in which he resides or who is a peace officer in the state in which he resides, shall be required to obtain a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver within this state if: I. Such nonresident carries upon his person the license held from the state in which he resides; and II. The state in which such person is a resident provides a reciprocal privilege for residents of this state.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the New Hampshire State Police when the reciprocal carry is to occur.

Criminal Provisions

Under New Hampshire law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether New Hampshire or a person issues it is carrying under reciprocity between his or her state of license and New Hampshire:

  • In a courtroom or area used by the court
  • Discharge of a firearm within 15 feet of the traveled portion of or across any state highway
  • On posted property
  • Discharge on the land of another within 300 feet of a permanently occupied building without the permission of the owner


Here are some specific sources for New Hampshire firearm laws:

  • RSA 159:3: This statute outlines the requirements for obtaining a license to carry a concealed firearm in New Hampshire.
  • RSA 159:4: This statute outlines the requirements for obtaining a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in a vehicle in New Hampshire.
  • RSA 159:5: This statute outlines the requirements for obtaining a license to sell firearms in New Hampshire.
  • RSA 159:6: This statute outlines the requirements for obtaining a license to purchase firearms in New Hampshire.
  • RSA 159:6-a: This statute outlines the requirements for obtaining a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in New Hampshire openly.

These statutes and other firearms-related statutes can be found on the New Hampshire General Court website at

It is important to note that these citations are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal advice regarding New Hampshire firearm laws, it is recommended to consult with an attorney or qualified legal professional.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.