March 9, 2015

#NMLEG Progressive Bill of the Day | 03-09-15

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Children and teen gun death rate per 100,000. (SOURCE:  The Horrific Risk Of Gun Violence For Black Kids In America, In 4 Charts. By The Huffington Post. 19 August 2014.)

Children and teen gun death rate per 100,000. (SOURCE: The Horrific Risk Of Gun Violence For Black Kids In America, In 4 Charts. By The Huffington Post. 19 August 2014.)

 

With a pro-gun Governor on the Fourth Floor and a Republican majority in the House beholden to the NRA, there hasn’t been much movement on any legislation this session aimed at gun violence prevention.

Rep. Stephanie Maez

Rep. Stephanie Maez

But that’s not stopping Rep. Stephanie Maez from bringing what’s know as a Child Access Prevention (CAP) law to the New Mexico House in an attempt to protect children from the negligent storage of firearms. Twenty-seven states along with Washington D.C. have CAP laws on the books.

With state-based statistics like these, it’s hard to imagine why opposition to CAP laws even exists:

2013 data from the New Mexico Department of Health’s Vital Records Department reveals that the second leading cause of death for children and teens age 1-18 in New Mexico is suicide – with 34% of those suicides by firearm. The third leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-18 is homicide with 74% of those deaths being caused by a firearm.

Here’s a rundown of Rep. Maez’s bill, HB 544, from the House Democrats’ press office (emphasis mine):

Representative Stephanie Maez brings bill addressing negligent storage of firearms

SANTA FE, NM –Representative Stephanie Maez (D-Albuquerque) has introduced a bill addressing the negligent storage of firearms. House Bill 544 defines negligent storage of a firearm as storing or leaving a firearm, loaded or unloaded, in a location where the owner knows or reasonable should have known a minor is likely to gain access to it. Penalties differ for what the minor then does with that firearm. HB 544 is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee today, Monday, March 9 at 1:30 pm.

Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws are similar to other laws requiring parents to safeguard the health and welfare of children such as mandatory child safety seats, motorcycle helmets and child labor laws. CAP laws require gun owners to store their weapons in such a way as to prevent access by minors without appropriate supervision. That could include storing in firearms in locked containers or using a trigger lock on the firearm. According to the Legal Community against Violence February 2008 report, 27 states and the District of Columbia have CAP laws.

2013 data from the New Mexico Department of Health’s Vital Records Department reveals that the second leading cause of death for children and teens age 1-18 in New Mexico is suicide – with 34% of those suicides by firearm.  The third leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-18 is homicide with 74% of those deaths being caused by a firearm.

“As a mother of two, I know how crucial it is that we keep our children safe,” said Representative Stephanie Maez. “Too many kids in have been involved in tragedies involving firearms. There have been two incidents in New Mexico involving guns in the hands of children in the past month alone. We have a responsibility to make sure our communities in New Mexico are safe for everyone. This bill is a step towards preventing those unnecessary deaths and injuries caused by improperly stored firearms.”

There were two tragedies pertaining to children and unlocked guns in New Mexico in the past month. At an Albuquerque motel, a 4 year old shot and injured his father’s pregnant girlfriend as well as his father. Two weeks ago in Farmington, a six-year-old shot her eight-year-old sister with her father’s rifle. In addition, the student at the Roswell school shooting obtained the unlocked firearm from his parent’s closet. None of these tragedies would have occurred had their parents properly stored their guns.