Advocates, lawmakers call for action after two recent shootings

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The call for stricter gun laws in our state is now resurfacing after a deadly shooting up in Red River this weekend.

State Police say three people died – and more wounded – after a shootout between two motorcycle gangs. Police identified all victims as members of either the Bandidos or the Waterdogs from New Mexico.

The three suspects will appear in court this week and police could charge more people.

Now, we are hearing from our New Mexican delegation. On Twitter this weekend, all five Congress members released a joint statement. They praised first responders for their quick response to the shooting, then went on to say, in part:

“These shootings desecrated a decades-old cherished community gathering. We are painfully aware that these shootings also came less than two weeks after the mass shooting in Farmington. We cannot let these events become normal we must do more to prevent gun violence.”

They aren’t the only ones calling for stricter gun laws. The nonprofit, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, says our legislature missed an opportunity this last session.

“We need our elected officials to make gun violence prevention a real priority. In this last session, it was not a priority. We got very little passed and we had good, common sense gun violence prevention legislation that sat on the House and Senate floors for weeks.” New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence co-president Miranda Viscoli said.

Fast forward to May and we see two rural communities rocked with gun violence. One, right before graduation. The other, during a favorite community celebration.

“It was sad. This is actually a fun event for families. This is something Red River does every single year and, once again, a rural community in New Mexico is rocked with gun violence,” Viscoli said. “It’s not just the people who are killed. Obviously, these were people in gangs, but they are people too. Also, the people who are traumatized by gun violence.”

After the shooting in Farmington, the governor re-upped her call for a bill to ban the sale of assault weapons. We also spoke to the state representative, Andrea Romero, who introduced that bill this session. The bill never made it out of committee but says she will reintroduce it next session.

“We unfortunately respond better to crisis and that is the unfortunate reality we are in. In New Mexico, we didn’t take action and this could have been prevented or at least provide additional tools in the toolbox to grapple with what happened,” Romero said.

But the Republican representative, Mark Duncan, who lost his aunt during the Farmington shooting, says we don’t need more gun control. Instead, he would like to see more funding for mental health resources.

No matter what the legislature decides on, Viscoli wants to see some sort of progress.

“We have to figure out how we are going to work together to pass these commonsense gun laws,” Viscoli said.

One of the biggest laws passed this last session dealing with gun reform was the Bennie Hargrove Act. That requires gun owners to properly store firearms and can hold them responsible if a child uses their gun in a crime. Bennie’s bill goes into effect July 1.