New Mexico

New Mexico Senate passes background check legislation by Charles Yeganian

The New Mexico Senate took a big step toward improving the state’s gun laws yesterday by passing SB 8 yesterday by a 22-20 vote.

The straightforward bill simply states that the sale of a firearm is illegal unless a federal instant background check is performed, and parties violating the law would be guilty of a misdemeanor. The checks are not completely universal, as the legislation carves out some exceptions (sales or transfers between two law enforcement officers, for example), but SB 8 would go a long way toward addressing the number one issue identified with the state’s gun laws by the Giffords Law Center.

LEAP Forward will continue to grade SB 8 as it goes before the New Mexico House and will continue to score support for the bill.

New Mexico safe storage bill amended in committee; emerges as "child neglect" legislation by Charles Yeganian

LEAP Forward has been tracking New Mexico HB 130 since its introduction last December. The bill, by Democrat Linda Trujillo, was introduced as legislation that would have created the offense of Negligent Storage of Firearms, and define that offense as keeping a firearm in a location where a person could reasonably believe a minor could find it. The crime carried a fine of $250 for an unloaded firearm, and a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to $500 for a loaded one. Penalties increased if the gun was used in the commission of a crime, or led to death and injury.

The New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee yesterday substituted language for the original bill. What has emerged is watered down, but still worthy of passage, and LEAP Forward will continue to score support for the legislation.

What HB 130 does now is add to existing law regarding neglected children, enhancing the definition of a “neglected child” to include one whose parent leaves a firearm - loaded or unloaded - where that child could gain access to it.

The committee vote was still divided along party lines, with the committee’s three Democrats overruling two Republican “no” votes and reporting the bill with a “do pass” recommendation.

Editorial: Pass Background Check Legislation in New Mexico by Charles Yeganian

Similar bills in the House and Senate would make it a crime to sell a firearm without conducting a background check – something that can be done through a federally licensed firearms dealer for about $45. What does that mean? It would help keep guns out of the hands of felons, people with documented mental health problems, illegal immigrants and others who couldn’t purchase a gun from a licensed gun shop.

Would it stop criminals and cartel drug dealers from selling and buying guns on the black market? Of course not. But it could help avoid the next school shooting.

As it stands now, if you go into a reputable gun shop and purchase a firearm, a background check is required. If you agree to purchase one from some sketchy character in a parking lot in response to an ad on the internet, it’s no questions asked. How can anyone argue this makes sense?

LEAP Forward will be grading these bils - SB 8 and HB 8 - and scoring support.

Rep. Debbie Armstrong's HB 87 Passes First Hurdle in New Mexico House by Charles Yeganian

“When a gun is present in a situation of domestic violence, it is five times more likely that a woman will be killed,” Armstrong said. “HB 87 is a common-sense way to reduce gun violence in New Mexico.”

Armstrong’s bill will make it a misdemeanor for anyone convicted of domestic violence, or under a restraining order, to possess a firearm. The bill also provides a clear process for offenders to relinquish—and reclaim as appropriate—their firearms.

“Gun violence is devastating families,” Armstrong said, “and New Mexicans are saying enough is enough. We know that in states where people under restraining orders relinquish their guns, there is a 22-percent lower rate of intimate-partner death by firearm. It’s time we make New Mexico safer for families and children.”

LEAP Forward is continuing to grade legislative action on HB 87 and is scoring support.