December 28, 2015

Bill aims to close gun show loophole in New Mexico

A gun show in Houston, TX. Wikicommons.

SANTA FE, N.M. — Unlicensed gun dealers would be required to perform background checks before selling firearms at gun shows in a bill pending in the upcoming New Mexico legislative session.

A gun show in Houston, TX. Wikicommons.

A gun show in Houston, TX. Wikicommons.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, said it would close what he called a “dangerous loophole” in state law. Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, said the bill would make all gun dealers play by the same rules.

“It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment, unless you want to protect the Second Amendment rights of a convicted felon or a domestic-violence offender,” she said. “It doesn’t in any way abridge the right to bear arms. As long as you’re a law-abiding citizen, you can still purchase a firearm at a gun show.”

Current New Mexico law allows private, unlicensed dealers to sell firearms at gun shows without their buyers passing a federal background check. Viscoli said this will be the third time the bill has been filed at the Legislature. It didn’t make it to a full vote the past two sessions.

This year brings an added complication. Because the upcoming 30-day session is designated primarily for budget matters, Viscoli said, Gov. Susana Martinez will have to call for it to be heard.

“All she has to do is send a message saying, ‘Hey, I want this to go to a vote,’ ” Viscoli said. “In addition to that, she has said that she backs this bill, and that she would sign it if it got to her office.”

Viscoli said there also is popular support for the measure, citing a recent poll in which 73 percent of New Mexico voters said they’d approve it. However, members of the gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association, already are setting the stage to try to block the bill.