2023 Top Stories #2: Efforts to combat gun violence

Violent crimes involving firearms were a major issue in New Mexico, particularly following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order declaring gun violence a public health crisis in September. Lujan Grisham issued the executive order on Sept. 8 which included a 30-day firearm ban in Bernalillo County. Over the following week, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen […]

2023 Top Stories #2: Efforts to combat gun violence

Violent crimes involving firearms were a major issue in New Mexico, particularly following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order declaring gun violence a public health crisis in September.

Lujan Grisham issued the executive order on Sept. 8 which included a 30-day firearm ban in Bernalillo County. Over the following week, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen refused to enforce it and New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced that his office would not defend Lujan Grisham in lawsuits targeting the order.

Related: ‘Stop being squeamish’: Guv responds to BCSO not enforcing 30-day gun ban

Lujan Grisham classified this ban as a “cooling off period.”

On Sept. 14, a federal judge put a temporary restraining order on enforcing the ban. The next day, Lujan Grisham updated the order removing the ban but keeping in place a ban on firearms in public parks, government buildings and schools.

Since then, the governor has extended the narrowed public health order a number of times, including in December.

Related:219 guns seized since MLG public health order went into effect

Federal gun violence prevention actions

President Joe Biden announced Sept. 22 the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which he created to demonstrate how important gun violence is to him and to the country at large.

“It matters,” Biden said at a Sept. 22 press conference. “Here’s why. After every mass shooting, we hear a simple message, the same message all over the country: ‘Do something, please do something.’”

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Safer States Initiative on Dec. 13 which seeks to help states and municipalities access federal assistance to fight gun violence.

On Nov. 31, Senators Martin Heinrich, a Democrat from New Mexico, and Angus King, an Independent from Maine, introduced the Gas-Operated Semi-Automatic Firearms Exclusion (GOSAFE) Act which  aims to regulate firearms based on the lethality of their internal mechanisms rather than on what the firearm looks like, to regulate the sale, transfer and manufacture of gas-operated semi-automatic firearms by making a list of prohibited firearms; preventing illegal modifications of legal firearms; mandating that future gas-operated designs are approved before manufacture and preventing illegal firearm self-assembly and manufacturing.“Far too many Americans and communities from Lewiston, Maine to Farmington, New Mexico, have lost loved ones in mass shootings and we can’t bring back those we’ve lost,” Heinrich said at a Nov. 30 press conference. “But lawmakers can save lives through common sense gun safety measures. We can pass laws that regulate the inherently dangerous and unusually lethal firearms that mass shooters have wielded against our communities.”

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