Senate approves bill banning firearms near polling places

The state Senate passed a bill that will ban most firearms near polling places. The chamber voted 26-16 to pass the bill. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, sponsored SB 5. “I appreciate the debate and certainly respect the differences that we have on this issue. I also very much appreciate the input and […]

Senate approves bill banning firearms near polling places

The state Senate passed a bill that will ban most firearms near polling places.

The chamber voted 26-16 to pass the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, sponsored SB 5.

“I appreciate the debate and certainly respect the differences that we have on this issue. I also very much appreciate the input and the way we’re able to shape this bill to make it better,” Wirth said.

The bill prevents people from carrying firearms near polling places. Law enforcement or licensed security personnel are exempt from the ban.

In all, the debate took more than two hours and included a call of the Senate, which means all Senators had to be present on the floor for the debate and vote. The call of the Senate resulted in a delay of around 45 minutes.

Sen. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, claimed the bill would disenfranchise Republican voters because they prefer to vote in person. His claims included that the bill could prevent some people from voting.

Related: Bill banning firearms near polling places advances

“Firearms are already prohibited in many public places in New Mexico that are used as polling locations: schools, tribal land (and) court facilities,” the Secretary of State’s Office said in the bill’s fiscal impact report. “Passing this legislation would increase the amount of protection available to our election administrators, poll workers, and voters, and it would work towards eliminating threats of fear and intimidation.” 

Senators attempted to pass three amendments to the bill. Only one passed, and it was a simple amendment from the bill’s sponsor in which two places the word “and” was changed to “or.”

The two failed amendments would have exempted those with concealed carry licenses from the ban and the other would have made it only valid in counties with a population over 130,000.

The bill now goes to the House.

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