House committee approves proposed changes to the red flag law
SANTA FE, N.M. – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has eight gun safety initiatives she wants lawmakers to approve. On Tuesday, a House committee took the first crack at one of them.
Lawmakers are working to tweak New Mexico’s red flag law. It is one of the less controversial gun safety bills this session because the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act has been on the books since 2020.
The law allows New Mexicans to ask judges to order law enforcement officers to confiscate guns from people considered a danger to themselves or others.
It’s ultimately meant to prevent gun-related tragedies. However, a legislative report found the law has only been used 48 times since it was enacted – mostly in Bernalillo County.
Democratic state representatives Joy Garratt and Christine Chandler’s proposal is trying to make the law easier to use. They want to add health care professionals and law enforcement officers to the list of people who can file removal requests.
They also want to speed up the removal process by getting rid of the 48-hour time limit to remove guns, and requiring law enforcement to act immediately after receiving a judge’s order.
Their proposal would also require people to specifically request to retrieve their confiscated guns.
Despite the changes, the bill’s sponsors say this law is still focused on extreme situations.
“This is targeted towards people in trauma, people who have threatened suicide, which we have a high percentage, unfortunately, of veterans who have committed suicide with gun violence, and threats to killing other people. It’s a very limited use of a law. It’s a tool that can be used in those specific situations. Law-abiding gun owners have nothing to do with this law,” said Garratt.
As expected, the proposal faced intense scrutiny from the two Republican representatives on the committee – John Block and Stefani Lord. They are fierce opponents of every gun control bill.
On Tuesday, the duo spent more than an hour questioning the specific applications of the proposed changes.
Committee chair Joanne Ferrary tried to keep things on track, and things got tense.
After more than two hours of meticulous debate and questioning, the committee approved the proposed changes along party lines. Four Democrats against two Republicans.
The bill is now heading to the House Judiciary Committee, where it will likely face another fierce debate.
In the last 30 minutes, the same House committee also approved a new proposal along party lines. That proposal will allow the state to file lawsuits against gun manufacturers accused of deceptive sale practices.