ByDaniel J. Chacón and Robert Nott, Santa Fe New Mexican |
To hear House Speaker Brian Egolf tell it, public participation in this year’s largely virtual legislative session has been robust even if the doors of the state Capitol have been closed to everyday New Mexicans. In the second and third weeks of the 60-day session, more than 6,100 residents from 32 of the state’s 33 counties have voiced their opinions during committee hearings in the House of Representatives — up from the 2,400 who tuned in the first week. Egolf’s office touted the numbers Tuesday in a news release, declaring virtual participation “continues at a record-setting pace” in the House. But how many New Mexicans have been shut out? “It’s hard to quantify,” Egolf said.
Gun legislation is a surefire way to rile people on both sides of the aisle. Get ready for a spirited debate, New Mexico, because the first two measures pertaining to firearms in this year’s 60-day legislative session will be considered Tuesday by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
“Look, in all of these gun bills, there’s always going to be objections that they go too far,” Rep. Daymon Ely, a Corrales Democrat who is sponsoring one of the measures, said Monday. “When you step back from it, gun owners should be in favor of what I’m doing,” he added. “Nobody should want a gun in the hands of someone who is an imminent threat to themselves or others.” But Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, said Democrats tend to craft gun bills that “literally miss the mark.”
Despite the freezing cold, Stefani Lord wore a T-shirt that read “Pro-Gun Women” as she waited in line to speak against passage of gun-control legislation known as a “red flag” bill.
“Rural people feel differently from those who live in urban cities,” said Lord, who lives in a rural part of Bernalillo County. “We feel disenfranchised … like Santa Fe is not listening.” Opponents of Senate Bill 5, perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation in this year’s session, made what may have been their last stand Tuesday during a House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee hearing. Though the outcome was not unexpected — the Democratic-controlled committee moved it to the House floor by a 3-2 vote along party lines — the frustration felt by the bill’s detractors remained as palpable as it was last week, when it passed the Senate by a narrow 22-20 vote.
If the House approves Senate Bill 5 — which is likely, since Democrats who favor the bill outnumber Republicans by a ratio of almost 2 to 1 — it will then go to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has been pushing for the bill over the past year.
Many people came to the Capitol to speak about the bill, but their mood, and perhaps words, were more about lifestyle than mere votes.
TUCUMCARI — Back when this Eastern New Mexico town was founded as a tent city in 1901, it was unofficially known as “Ragtown.” Another nickname — “Six Shooter Siding” — later emerged, reportedly because of the large number of gunfights that took place there. “Six Shooter Siding” would be used by a saloon on Old Route 66. Today, like many old commercial establishments in Tucumcari, Six Shooter Siding is boarded up. And it’s been at least a century or so since the town was renowned for gun violence.
A bill that advocates say will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers is headed to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. The state House of Representatives voted 43-22 on Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 259, which would require people under domestic violence restraining orders to relinquish their firearms.
The Senate concurred with the House’s changes Thursday. Groups such as New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence argued that the bill is a common-sense measure that will protect victims of domestic violence. But several Republicans on the House floor countered that the bill was flawed and would clog up state courts. Related: Senate OKs ban on openly carrying firearms in Capitol
The bill would only apply once a judge has issued a final order following a hearing.
People who want to legally carry concealed weapons in New Mexico will still have to go through a 15-hour firearms training course, pass a background check and get a permit. A state Senate committee on Friday effectively killed a bill that would have allowed people 18 or older to carry a loaded concealed handgun without a license, provided that the person is not prohibited by law or court order from possessing or carrying a firearm. In a party-line vote, the Senate Public Affairs Committee tabled the bill by Sen. Steve Neville, R-Aztec. Democrats on the committee didn’t like the idea of junking the training requirements or the background check for applicants. Others objected to the bill applying to those as young as 18.
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. 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.”