Gun safety: Revised Bennie Hargrove bill introduced

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SANTA FE, N.M. – House Bill 9, commonly known as the Bennie Hargrove Bill, was reintroduced in the New Mexico House Tuesday, after not passing last session. 

13-year-old Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque in 2021. Police say another student, took a gun to school and shot Bennie.

This bill was originally written as a safe gun storage bill, but has had some revisions to try to get more support. The goal with this bill is to, realistically, keep guns out of the hands of kids.

Last session, this bill had strict requirements for how exactly firearms would be required to be stored, and those requirements received backlash because it was so defined. 

So now, the sponsor of this bill added some exemptions. 

House Rep. Pamalya Herndon added exceptions including hunting and supervised use of a gun. Another change is the bill doesn’t automatically make not storing a gun in a safe a crime.

So, if you have a gun but not a gun safe at home, this bill would require you to store it out of reach of kids.

For instance, if you have a four-year-old, storing a gun on a top shelf in a closet – where they cannot get to – is fine. Also, if you have a medicine cabinet that locks, that would also work. 

“Doesn’t criminalize unsecured firearms unless it is used in a crime by a minor or child,” said Herndon. 

This bill led to hours of discussion between those who do and don’t support it. Some notable supporters include Bennie Hargrove’s grandmother, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, and the Albuquerque Police Department. 

Finally, after the hours-long discussion the bill passed 4-2, and now moves to the Judiciary Committee.

Track HB 9 during the legislative session.