Report: More Than Half of People Who Shot and Killed New Mexico Law Enforcement Officers Were Likely Prohibited From Possessing Guns (but no one checked)
New Mexico appears to be on the brink of becoming the next state in the country to pass responsible background check requirements for gun sales.
Now, a new report by one group supporting the effort shows that as many as half of the persons who killed a New Mexico law enforcement officer since 1987 shouldn’t have been able to own a gun in the first place – but there were no laws on the books requiring anyone to check.
New Mexico Background Check Bills, Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50, Slated for Consideration During 2017 Legislative Session, Seek to Protect Law Enforcement by Preventing Convicted Felons and Other Dangerous People from Getting Guns; Research Shows Background Checks Save Officers’ Lives
New Everytown Polling Reveals 87 Percent of New Mexicans Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales, Including 84 Percent of Gun Owners
NEW YORK – A new analysis released today by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund reveals that more than half of the people who shot and killed a New Mexico law enforcement officer in the line of duty over the past 30 years – from January 1987 to December 2016 – were likely barred by state or federal law from buying or possessing firearms at the time of the incident. This legislative session, New Mexico lawmakers will be voting on Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50 – legislation that will close the background check loophole in New Mexico and require criminal background checks for all gun sales to make the state safer for law enforcement officers and all New Mexicans.
“Every day, law enforcement works their hardest to protect our fellow New Mexicans, but our current laws leave those on the front lines – and in our communities – in vulnerable positions. This latest research reflects what law enforcement in our state witness first-hand every year – the gaping loophole in our background check system for gun sales directly impacts the safety of those charged with protecting our communities,” said Nelson Sanchez, former Albuquerque Police Department Detective. “We now know that more than half of the people who shot and killed New Mexico law enforcement officers were likely legally prohibited from having a gun. There is no excuse for these preventable murders – our police men and women deserve better protection on the job.”
The analysis by Everytown of FBI data and news reports shows that at least 16 New Mexico law enforcement officers were shot and killed in the line of duty with guns not their own by 14 different shooters between 1987 and 2016. A review of criminal records and news reports revealed that the majority of shooters in those incidents – 57 percent – were likely prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the incident. And in the last 10 years alone, the vast majority – 80 percent – of perpetrators who shot and killed law enforcement officers in the state were likely prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms at the time of the incident. In 2015, the latest year for which government data is available, New Mexico had the highest rate of fatal shootings of law enforcement officers of any state — nearly 11 times higher than the national average.
Research shows that in states that require criminal background checks for all handgun sales, 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death in the line of duty. This common-sense policy receives widespread support throughout the state and law enforcement community: new polling released today by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund reveals that 87 percent of New Mexicans – including 84 percent of gun owners – support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. And earlier this month, a Pew Research Center national survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform revealed that 88 percent of sworn law enforcement officers support requiring background checks for unlicensed gun sales.
To conduct the analysis, Everytown obtained the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) database, covering felonious deaths of law enforcement, and updated it with additional information from press reports. For each incident in which an officer was killed with a firearm that was not his or her own, the researchers identified the shooter and then examined state and federal criminal records, where available, as well as contemporaneous newspaper accounts, to determine if the individual was prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms at the time of the incident. Details of the incidents and criminal histories of the perpetrators are available in Everytown for Gun Safety analysis here.
Under current New Mexico law there is a loophole that makes it easy for felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people to buy guns from unlicensed sellers – including complete strangers they meet online and at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked.