Castle Doctrine - Issue Summary

Should New Hampshire amend the legal use of deadly force?

castle doctrineBy: LFDA Editor

Under "Castle Doctrine" laws, a resident may use deadly force without first attempting retreat, if the resident is attacked in his or her home.  Under so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, a resident may use deadly force anywhere he or she has a right to be without first attempting retreat.

Prior to 2011 New Hampshire had a "Castle Doctrine" law.  In 2011 the state legislature overrode then-Governor Lynch's veto of SB 88, a bill that expanded the legal use of deadly force to a "Stand Your Ground" law.

Supporters of "Stand Your Ground" argue that residents have a right to defend themselves from attack no matter the circumstances.  Supporters also argue that empowering citizens to defend themselves with lethal force may deter criminals. 

Opponents of "Stand Your Ground" argue that the law should not permit escalation to lethal force when retreat is possible.  Many point to the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager living in Florida who was shot to death after being pursued by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman.  Although he later faced trial, police first cleared Zimmerman under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.  

2014 Legislation

No legislator has requested a 2014 bill related to the legal use of deadly force.

2013 Legislation

On March 27, 2013, the House narrowly passed (189-185) Rep. Steven Shurtleff's proposed HB 135. The bill sought a return to the state's original Castle Doctrine, limiting the use of deadly force to incidents on one's own property. The Union Leader quoted Shurtleff, a retired U.S. marshal, as saying, "The new law says you have a right to use deadly force anyplace you have a lawful place to be, and that would include Hampton Beach or a fair. To me, that just went beyond the pale." The state Senate tabled the measure two months later, however.

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If you are interested in the use of deadly force in NH and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on How to Take Action.

  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.

  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate

2. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan.

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What do you think about the use of deadly force?  Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

A 2013 bill to repeal New Hampshire's stand-your-ground law and return to the Castle Doctrine failed to pass the New Hampshire Senate. 

Since then New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster has asked the legislature to repeal the state's stand-your-ground law, but the legislature will not consider the issue in 2014.


There are no 2014 articles on this topic.

July 18, 2013
Union Leader: AG Foster: Lawmakers should 'take another look' at 'stand-your-ground' law
WMUR: State AG says stand-your-ground should be reviewed
Nashua Telegraph: NH Attorney General wants legislature to repeal Stand Your Ground law
May 24, 2013

Nashua Telegraph: Effort to repeal 'Stand your ground' law falls down in Senate
April 24, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH Senate panel hears out supporters, opponents of 2011 ‘stand your ground’ law
Nashua Telegraph: Debate to repeal ‘stand your ground’ law divides lawmakers, experts
NHPR: 'Stand your ground' repeal gets Senate hearing
Union Leader: Stand your ground repeal talk brings out strong opinions
WMUR: Stand-your-ground repeal debated
April 17, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: State Rep. from Amherst seeking shock value with email comment on Stand Your Ground Law
April 11, 2013
Concord Monitor: Petition, complaints target House members who voted to repeal NH's 'stand your ground' law
April 2, 2013
NHPR: Author of NH's 'stand your ground' bill says law is working
March 28, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH House votes, by narrow margin, to repeal state's 'stand your ground' law
Eagle-Tribune: House votes to repeal 'stand your ground'
Nashua Telegraph: 189-184 vote sendsd proposed repeal of 'stand your ground' law to Senate, where fate in doubt
NHPR: NH House votes to repeal 'stand your ground'
Seacoast Online: NH House: Retreat required before using deadly force
Union Leader: NH House narrowly votes to repeal 'stand your ground' law
WMUR: House votes to repeal stand your ground law
March 27, 2013
Union Leader: Repeal of 'stand your ground' law up for vote Wednesday
March 19, 2013
WMUR: NH House considers restrictions on use of deadly force
March 1, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: House coalition endorses repeal of Stand Your Ground law
January 28, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Reps say more to be heard on 'stand your ground' bill
January 25, 2013
Union Leader: Lawyers say 'stand your ground' works
January 23, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH House panel hears 5 hours of testimony on bill to repeal 'stand your ground' law
NHPR: House takes up repeal of 'stand your ground'
January 12, 2013
NHPR: Democratic lawmaker wants to repeal 'stand-your-ground' law
January 11, 2013
Union Leader: NH gun bills filed, but not because of Newtown
December 29, 2013
NHPR: Jan. 1 law change makes it legal to carry guns in NH Fish and Game refuges
December 23, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Shaheen, Ayotte nonspecific on gun control
December 22, 2012
Union Leader: 'Castle Doctrine' among likely legislative action items in 2013
December 9, 2012
Union Leader: Lawyers agree residents have right of deadly force
May 7, 2012
Keene Sentinel: We should repeal dangerous 'stand your ground' law (guest column)
April 3, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: No-retreat law under scrutiny
February 20, 2012
WMUR: Armed homeowner tracks down burglar suspect
February 12, 2012

Keene Sentinel: A break in the momentum of relaxing gun laws in NH (opinion)
February 9, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Senate cautious on gun legislation
Loudoun Times-Mirror: 'Castle Doctrine' moving through Va. legal system
January 31, 2012
Union Leader: Gov. Lynch laments 'harshness in the air'
September 7, 2011
Seacoastonline: Deadly-force law expansion under fire from N. H. police
August 7, 2011
Nashua Telegraph: Senators back from break, tackle vetoes
Jun 22, 2011
Union Leader: Lawmakers approve expanded Castle Doctrine by veto-proof margin