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.
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.
A legislative committee on Monday effectively killed a bill to expand background checks for gun purchases — an issue that drew large crowds to the Capitol as well as big campaign contributions and intense lobbying and advertising. The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 to table House Bill 548 after a lengthy hearing. It marked the defeat of the most recent gun-control bill sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos. Democrat Eliseo Alcon of Milan joined the six Republicans on the panel to stop the measure, which would have required background checks on all sales of firearms at gun shows and from advertisements on the internet or print publications. Garcia Richard said other states that have approved similar bills have seen fewer violent crimes and suicides involving guns.
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 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.
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.”