Over the duration of the 2017 legislative session, we fought to create laws that would result in keeping guns out of dangerous hands. In the end, sponsors of major legislation that would have changed the way that people purchase firearms by requiring background checks for all gun sales incorporated several amendments requested by opponents before House Majority Leader Nate Gentry – who had taken a $5000 donation from Everytown and asked volunteers to canvass his district to spread news of his promise to support background check language – organized Republican votes to table (end progress on ) the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. However, not all gun violence prevention legislation reached the same result.
This legislation has been introduced every year since the tragic 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This year Senator Richard Martinez and Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard, both democrats from Los Alamos, were the sponsors of the legislation. Originally drafted as a universal background checks bill, targeting all gun transfers (with the exception of immediate family members), the legislation was narrowed to only target sales between strangers.
Opposition organized by the NRA, and through Facebook groups like New Mexico Gun Owners Assoc., the New Mexico Gun Store Owners and the New Mexico chapter of the Sons of Liberty, an army of lobbyists were dispatched to the Roundhouseand statewide radio ads launched full of alternative facts to fire up gun opponents.
Having made its way through the Senate Pubic Affairs Committee and seeming to be making its way to the house floor after having passed two committees in the house, the bill was sent back to the House Judiciary Committee for multiple amendments. This would also be its final stop this session where it was tabled on a 7-6 vote: Republicans led by Rep. Nate Gentry killed the bill by getting Rep. Eliseo Alcon (D-Milan) to join their efforts.
Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Democratic Senator Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and championed by New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, grants a judge permission to order the surrender of a firearm by a person arrested for domestic violence. It would also bar that individual from purchasing any new firearms for a set amount of time.
At least 52 percent of American women killed with guns are killed by intimate partners or family members. And women are 16 times more likely to be killed with guns in the U.S. than in other developed countries. This piece of legislation will help protect women from violence at the hand of a known domestic abuser.
The bill has cleared both chambers and is now before the governor for approval.
Daniel Ivey Soto (D-Albuquerque) along with William Sharer (R-San Juan) have sponsored legislation that would limit the carrying of firearms in the capitol to law enforcement and concealed carry license holders. The legislation passed out of the Senate (29-12) with bi-partisan support, but failed to pass the State House on the last day of the session.