August 9, 2019

Guv’s office: A special session without a plan ‘is the wrong kind of reactive’

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Despite a call by the Speaker of the House for a special session to deal with domestic terrorism, the governor’s office is expressing caution and indicating a special session is not currently in the offing.

A statement from Dominic Gabello, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s senior advisor for policy and strategy, outlined legislation that the governor supported in this year’s legislative session, including some that became law.

However, Gabello said, “To call for a special session, to lean into the well-founded fears of violence in this state and elsewhere, without a focused plan, without caucus outreach, is the wrong kind of reactive. We can be quick without hurrying.”

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, asked the governor to call the legislature into a special session for legislation to combat domestic terrorism.

Egolf reacted after the announcement from the governor’s office.

“I have every confidence that with the Governor’s strong leadership, we can work on smart solutions that will keep New Mexicans safe. As I previously stated, I am looking forward to meeting with leadership next week at the summit to further discuss issues of domestic terrorism and I truly believe that New Mexico has a unique position to take a strong, leading role in preventing these targeted attacks,” Egolf said. “I know that we are all committed to working together to make sure that the safety of New Mexicans is our top priority, and I’m ready to get to work.”

This came after two mass shootings over the weekend. In El Paso, Texas, a shooter killed 22 and injured two dozen more in a mass shooting. Federal authorities have said they are treating the shooting as a case of domestic terrorism. A federal prosecutor said it appeared the shooter targeted those of Hispanic descent

The FBI also opened a domestic terrorism investigation into a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California last month where the shooter killed three before killing himself and that the Dayton, Ohio shooter had been “exploring violent ideologies.”

The governor will host a domestic terrorism summit next week. The governor invited legislative leadership, including Egolf, as well as New Mexico National Guard Maj. Gen. Kenneth A. Nava,  New Mexico National Guard Deputy Adjutant Gen. Miguel Aguilar, Public Safety Secretary Mark Shea, State Police Chief Tim Johnson and Homeland Security Secretary Jackie Lindsey.

The summit will include a briefing from the FBI.

After the shootings this weekend, Democrats in Congress, including in New Mexico’s delegation, have asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to consider gun safety bills, something McConnell has previously refused to do. However, the Kentucky Republican indicated Thursday that after the August recess, he would allow votes on expanding background checks for gun purchases, though other efforts like reinstating an assault weapons ban would not be on the table.

New Mexico passed legislation to expand background checks and to prevent those who are convicted of domestic violence or subject to a protective order in a pending domestic violence case from owning firearms.