Bennie’s Bill: New Mexico gun safety law takes effect

[anvplayer video=”5181672″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It has been nearly two years since tragedy struck Washington Middle School.

Witnesses said 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove was standing up to a bully at lunch when he was shot six times. Juan Saucedo Jr. is the fellow classmate charged with his murder.

The park where he was killed was renamed in his honor last month.

On Friday, a new state law – also in his honor – officially goes into effect.

“It’s a proud feeling of accomplishment,” said Vanessa Sawyer, Bennie’s grandmother.

Democratic Rep. Pamelya Herndon spearheaded House Bill 9.

“What we are expecting as a result of Bennie Hargrove Bill going into place, is that parents or adults who have responsibility for firearms will absolutely restore those, will store them safely so that children or minors do not have access to them at all,” Herndon said.

HB 9 acts as a gun safety bill. If a child gets a hold of their parent or guardian’s gun and commits a crime – that caretaker can be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The purpose was not necessarily to punish adults,” Herndon said. “But the purpose was to make sure that they are thinking about what they’re doing.”

After it was tabled last year in the legislative session, the bill comes into effect nearly a month after what would have been Hargrove’s 15th birthday.

“The biggest thing we want to do is to make sure that parents are aware of the problems that will face their child,” Herndon said.

Even though the new bill has been signed into law, that does not mean Saucedo Jr.’s parents can be charged in the Washington Middle School shooting. It only applies to future cases.

“Gun violence is out of control right now, and this is the first step to help solve some of the problem,” Sawyer said. “It’s going to help save lives.”