When retired U.S. Navy Captain and astronaut Mark Kelly asked nine high school students how many knew someone who had been shot, all of them raised their hands. The students were from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and two schools on tribal land. He said that’s the first time every student raised a hand; it’s usually closer to 50 percent when he asks that in other states—and closer to zero percent in other developed nations. Three of the students later said they had been shot at themselves . Kelly appeared with his wife, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Partially paralyzed and speaking in just a few simple sentences, a former U.S. congresswoman shot in the head six years ago during a rampage that left a half-dozen people dead delivered the most high-profile endorsement yet of two gun-control bills being considered in the New Mexico Legislature. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” Gabrielle Giffords told a crowd of reporters and gun-control advocates at the Capitol on Wednesday. “Now is the time to come together — to be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone.” Giffords’ appearance at the Legislature demonstrated the campaign for gun control is not letting up during the final weeks of the session.
A 29-year-old Albuquerque man was accused of firing a .45-caliber pistol multiple times at a car carrying a couple and their 2-month-old baby. Last year, the man was charged with several felonies stemming from the September 2015 incident in Northern New Mexico. He pleaded not guilty and was released from jail on bond. One of the conditions of his release prohibited him from possessing firearms.
Just two weeks later, however, the suspect responded to an online ad for an AK WASR-10 rifle. He repeatedly called and texted the would-be seller, offering to pay $300 in cash.
A House committee on Saturday advanced a bill that would expand required background checks to include most gun purchases in New Mexico. After a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-1 along party lines in favor of House Bill 50, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos. The committee’s action mirrored that of a Senate panel that last week approved an identical proposal, Senate Bill 48. While the New Mexico Legislature is moving toward expanding mandatory background checks, Congress is heading in the other direction. The U.S. House of Representatives last week voted 235-180 to scuttle an Obama-era rule requiring background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities.
House Democrats staged a sit-in that lasted well into Thursday morning. The two Democrats in hte U.S. House from New Mexico took part in the sit-in. The Democrats sought a vote on a piece of legislation related to guns dubbed “no fly, no buy” which would bar those on terror watchlists from purchasing guns
The Democrats did not get their way when it came to a vote on the bill before the House adjourned for a recess for the 4th of July, but did get a likely secondary objective: a confrontation with House Republican leadership. Sen. Udall, Rep. Lujan Grisham and I on floor calling for vote to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists pic.twitter.com/ZkCE4nxcWA
— Ben Ray Lujan (@repbenraylujan) June 22, 2016
The bill itself has a New Mexico connection—U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is one of those who negotiated the compromise with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Heinrich said the sit-in could be helpful.
In the wake of the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs that left three dead and the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, there is a renewed focus on gun ownership. It’s well-known that gun sales in the United States spike after mass shootings that receive national attention. The two recent shootings are no exception. This leads some to wonder how many guns, exactly, there are in each state and how many people own guns in each state. The question isn’t exactly cut and dried, and varies depending on what study you read.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham continues to put the issue of reducing of gun violence on the front burner. The Democratic congresswoman from Albuquerque announced on Friday that she joined a task force on gun violence prevention. She also wants the House to create a Select Committee on Gun Violence. “I look forward to working through this task force to push for common-sense legislation that finally addresses the gun violence epidemic,” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Since the leadership in Congress has failed to do anything, I am joining my colleagues to call for a Select Committee that leads to decisive action.”
The House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force is chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and was created following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
The U.S. Senate is taking another crack at legislation to curb gun violence, a week after a shooting at an Oregon community college that left nine dead. Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed support for the principles behind the legislation. The Senate introduced the legislation on Thursday with a letter from sponsors Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Debbie Stabinow, D-Mich. The letter was sent to their Senate colleagues, including both Democratic Senators from New Mexico. From NBC News:
The changes would “bolster the background check system by strengthening it and stopping those who try to evade it,” the letter said.
In a fundraising email to supporters, an “angry” and “frustrated” Michelle Lujan Grisham called for “common sense” action to curb gun violence. In the email, from her Friends of Michelle campaign committee, she notes a Washington Post article that showed there have been more mass shootings so far this year than days in the year. The Washington Post has been tracking shootings with multiple people injured or killed, such as the Los Altos Skate Park shooting that left one dead, one paralyzed and several others injured. Other counts only list those with multiple people killed. Lujan Grisham said that the “gun culture” in the United States helps lead to the shootings.