Gun safety bill known as ‘Bennie’s Bill’ signed into law

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SANTA FE, N.M. — House Bill 9, also known as the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, was signed into law Tuesday by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“This is a wonderful step to help solve some of these problems,” said Vanessa Sawyer, Bennie Hargrove’s grandmother. “It’s not going to do the whole job, but it’s a start. Families, children, they’ll be safe, and they won’t have to go through this even if it’s just one life that’s saved – that’s an important thing.”

Bennie’s family joined the governor in Santa Fe for the signing. The new law increases penalties for improperly stored weapons that end up in the hands of children.

Bennie was shot and killed in 2021 at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque. Juan Saucedo Jr. is the middle school student charged with his murder.

Police said Bennie tried to de-escalate a violent situation between classmates during lunch and was shot six times.

“How does a 13-year-old get a gun? It was just astounding to me that we didn’t have a gun safety law i the state of New Mexico,” said Rep. Pamelya Herndon, a co-sponsor of the bill.

The bill was first introduced during the last legislative session. Exemptions were added to the legislation, including self-defense, hunting, or supervised usage of a firearm.

Saucedo Jr. pleaded no contest to second-degree murder two weeks ago.

Even though Bennie is gone, supporters say his legacy will now live on through this law.

“It’s so important that recognizes a problem New Mexico’s having and it’s a step, the nation is going to know about this,” Sawyer 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.