Prefiled bills show focus on guns, crime, and safety

A look at the pre-filed bills at the Roundhouse

It should come as no surprise state lawmakers are looking to tackle topics like gun violence and public safety when the 30-day legislative session kicks off Tuesday.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State lawmakers have been busy prefiling bills ahead of the upcoming legislative session beginning on Tuesday at noon, and there is a notable focus on familiar topics such as gun violence, crime, and pretrial detention.

Lawmakers could begin filing on Jan. 2 and have until Friday before the early filing period closes.

Many of the bills in both the House and Senate are familiar to those who have followed politics in the state over the past few years, but there are some new entries as well.

Of note, there is a bill in each chamber that tackles a very controversial issue in the state – the death penalty.

Some lawmakers are looking to have it reinstated for those who kill peace officers, including police and even corrections officers inside prisons, and other heinous crimes.

The death penalty was outlawed in New Mexico in 2009, but it’s remained a topic of discussion since then.

The House bill regarding the death penalty notes that the age of the defendant at the time of the crime should be noted as a mitigating factor, stating “the defendant may be sentenced to life imprisonment or life imprisonment without the possibility of release or parole but shall not be punished by death.”

As many had predicted, there are several bills filed early that address the procedure for obtaining firearms.

Republican state Rep. Stefani Lord is looking to completely do away with background checks for the sale of a firearm.

But those on the other side of the aisle are taking a much different approach, including state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, who is once again trying to get a 14-day waiting period installed for gun buyers.

The NRA released a statement Wednesday regarding that waiting period, saying in part: “This measure will add nothing to the existing FBI background check process and will only delay your ability to exercise your Second Amendment right to purchase firearms to defend yourself, your family, and your property.”

Several other states have enacted mandatory waiting periods with Hawaii also requiring at least a 14-day wait for those looking to obtain a gun.

Pretrial detention, or holding people in custody while they await trial, could also be a topic of discussion in Santa Fe over the next few weeks with part of the focus on the familiar subject of “rebuttable presumption.”

Some lawmakers want to give defendants an opportunity to share why they won’t be a danger to society if they are released.  Currently, the prosecution looks to establish that a defendant is dangerous and there is no way to reasonably protect the safety of others if that person is released.

KOB will be providing coverage for all 30 days of this year’s legislative session both on-air and online.