Democrat lawmaker blasts bill blocking gun purchases with EBT cards

A New Hampshire Democrat lawmaker is speaking out against a bill that restricts what people can buy with government entitlement funds, saying booze, tobacco, lottery tickets and even guns should be permitted.

The position Timothy Horrigan, (D-Durham), took this week on the Statehouse floor in Concord, stating that barring purchases of firearms with Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, violates the Second Amendment, put him at odds with some gun control groups and in the same camp as some pro-gun groups that often disagree with him.

“It’s not up to me to make that choice for people,” Horrigan told “I’m not saying that they should be allowed to use their benefits to buy up an arsenal, but they have a right to purchase guns for hunting or self-defense. If you or I have those rights, then they should as well. It’s not my place to tell them what to do.”


Senate Bill 203 aims to define the permissible uses of EBT cards, stating what can and cannot be purchased with them.

“Any person who receives public assistance is prohibited from using an EBT card or cash obtained with an EBT card to gamble or to purchase tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, firearms, or adult entertainment,” reads language from the bill, which also bars use of the cards or cash received for Tattoos and Body Piercing.

"Politics makes strange bedfellows is all I can say," Sam Cohen, executive vice president of Pro-Gun New Hampshire, told "I'm surprised by his position. Horrigan is known as an anti-gun, left-wing politician, and I wouldn't expect to be on the same side."

Cohen said he did not take a position on whether other items should or should not be barred, but said firearms are legal products and any restrictions on their purchase, other than by people otherwise prohibited, is unconstitutional.

"Unless someone is a felon or restricted from purchasing or owning firearms for some other lawful reason, I am against restricting their right to bear arms," Cohen said.

The bill will be brought before a committee this summer, when it will be decided if it should be advanced.

Horrigan is opposed to not only the ban on guns, but all the restrictions presented in the bill. He believes people who need the government aid should get it without strings attached.

“Nobody is living high off the hog off of this,” he said, claiming that the average EBT user receives $215 a month. "There is a perception that these funds would be misused by the recipient, and while there are probably some problems, most of them are good people.”