New Mexico lawmakers respond to calls for gun control

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Tomorrow will mark one week since a young gunman shot and killed three people in Farmington. Since then, more elected leaders are calling for stricter gun control and enhancing criminal charges.

KOB 4 spoke with state lawmakers from both major parties Sunday. 

Democrats have made the most noise this week, and we asked them about plans for the next legislative session. Gun control was a hot topic during the session this year, but not many of the bills introduced became law.

While the governor signed the Bennie Hargrove Act, both the assault weapon ban and the 14-day waiting period died in committee. Now the governor is re-upping those calls.

Her officer sent out a statement saying:

“Governor Lujan Grisham will not stop fighting for laws that prevent additional gun violence. She will continue to pursue an assault weapons sales ban as well as legislation to raise the purchasing age for firearms and enabling citizens to sue gun manufacturers. Governor Lujan Grisham is calling on lawmakers to find solutions that save lives.”

Some lawmakers are already preparing to reintroduce bills like the assault weapon ban, while others say we need to take a different approach.

“I’m so grateful for the call the governor made, but we need to take this next step and figure out what we need to do next,” said state Rep. Andrea Romero. 

Romero introduced a bill last session that would regulate the possession, sale, and transfer of assault weapons in New Mexico. That bill didn’t make it to the governors’ desk or even the House floor. 

“We are seeing these perpetrated crimes with these automatic weapons of war across the country and of course we saw the weapon being used in Farmington was an AR-15, and that would have fallen under an assault weapons ban,” said Romero. 

But this bill wouldn’t have necessarily prevented the Farmington shooting since the AR-15 was bought last November—before this bill was introduced.

Romero says she is prepared to continue to introduce gun safety bills in the coming sessions.

“I’m hopeful as we move into the next session or maybe a special session that we can really focus on the importance of this legislation when we have mass shootings, and see how deadly these weapons are. We didn’t get to the conversation that I think we should be having about how deadly these weapons are,” Romero said. 

But it’s not just the governor calling for these stricter gun laws, Mayor Tim Keller said they are not waiting for the Legislature when it comes to cracking down on gun violence in Albuquerque.

“This summer we are cracking down on guns. We are going to triangulate existing restrictions around schools to aggressively target any crime with a gun anywhere in downtown Albuquerque,” said Keller in his State of the City address Saturday. 

“We can do that at the state level, and I am supportive of Mayor Keller’s calls for that and ways to strengthen that, I’d love to work on how we can do that as a state,” said Romero. “We can create laws that can certainly impact and encourage legislation locally and reinforce that by having a state law on the books and make it clear.”

KOB 4 also reached out to Republicans to hear what they have planned for the upcoming session.

On Sunday, we spoke on the phone with Farmington state Rep. Mark Duncan. His aunt Melody Ivie was killed during Monday’s mass shooting, which happened in his district.

He declined an interview because he is still mourning her loss, but he did say he doesn’t believe gun control is the answer.

Instead, Duncan says this is a mental health issue, and he would rather have the state dedicate more funding to programs that assist with mental health, especially when it comes to families – rather than see the state try to take away firearms.