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After the death of her son, this NH mom wants to restrict her right to buy a gun

Donna Morin with her son, Nathan Morin.
Donna Morin
Donna Morin with her son, Nathan Morin.

The House of Representatives voted down a bill Thursday that would have allowed people to temporarily put themselves on a “do not sell” list. Under the proposal, people could voluntarily restrict their right to buy a gun.

Donna Morin of Hooksett supported the measure and wants the option to be on a ‘do not sell’ list. Morin’s son died by suicide in 2022. She says since then, she has struggled with her mental health and wants to be restricted from buying a gun.

“When people are going through a crisis, they form a tunnel vision and they need an escape. And a gun is the easiest way for this escape,” Morin told NHPR’s Morning Edition host Rick Ganley. “So I feel that it's important for people who anticipate that would be able to put themselves on this list to protect themselves and their families.”

The majority of gun deaths in New Hampshire are suicides, and the House bill was modeled after Donna’s Law, which calls voluntary “do not sell” lists a “self-defense against gun suicide.” Similar legislation has been adopted in other states across the country.

Critics say the New Hampshire bill is unnecessary and vague, arguing that it does not address privacy concerns. They also say it could be difficult for people to get off the list if they change their minds.

In the Thursday House vote, Republican Rep. Terry Roy said he's concerned people could be coerced into putting their name on the list.

“What if, for example, the psychiatrist you've seen for years and you depend on for your mental health, says to you, ‘If you want to continue seeing me, you have to put your name on this registry?’ You now have a choice to keep your Second Amendment rights or lose your doctor,” Roy said.

But Morin says making sure she is safe from buying a gun is her right.

“I don't think this is going to stop every single gun related suicide, of course. But if we can chip away at it, why not? Why not allow people the ability to just say, ‘I want to protect myself from access to a gun?’ That's all they're saying.”

Morin says she doesn’t think a voluntary list would have helped her son, though. She supported a Senate bill that would have created a three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, but the bill was killed earlier this month. She says she believes that waiting period would have kept her son alive.

“The reason I know it would have protected him is because he was able to go to the store and buy a gun, and then 30 minutes later he took his life.”

Morin says a waiting period can allow people to get space from impulsive feelings in a crisis.

“If somebody can just get through this, the really dark period that they're seeing, if they can just not have that tunnel vision and get through it, then they're going to be okay. And I know my son would have been okay.”

Editor's note: People can call or text 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, as well as 833-710-6477 for New Hampshire’s Rapid Response Access Point, for help in a mental health or substance use crisis.

They can also go to NAMI’s website or social media channels for information about additional crisis resources.

Jackie Harris is the Morning Edition Producer at NHPR. She first joined NHPR in 2021 as the Morning Edition Fellow.

For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.