Lawmakers discuss proposed gun control laws in New Mexico

Lawmakers discuss proposed gun control laws in New Mexico

It's Day two of the 30-day legislative session, and state lawmakers are slowly getting back into the swing of things.

SANTA FE, N.M. – It’s day two of the 30-day legislative session, and state lawmakers are slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Wednesday was largely an organizational day as lawmakers prepared for what’s expected to be some pretty big debates.

Gun control is expected to be a major talking point this year. It seems Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state lawmakers have different ideas on how to address gun violence.

It’s really a matter of how far they’re willing to go. The governor made it clear during her State of the State address that she wants state lawmakers to approve several new gun control laws.

Lujan Grisham has eight big ideas that are already pre-filed:

  • Assault weapons ban
  • 14-day waiting period
  • Ban guns at polling locations
  • Ban guns at parks and playgrounds
  • Raise age limit to purchase guns
  • Increase penalties for felons with firearm
  • Expand red flag law
  • Firearm Industry Accountability Act

House Democrat leaders revealed they’re primarily interested in working on three of the bills; however, they have not specifically ruled out working on other gun safety proposals. 

A proposed 14-day waiting period for all gun sales. That’s 14 business days, according to the bill from Democratic state Rep. Reena Szcepanski. Supporters say it’s meant to be a cooling-off period, and allow for federal background checks to be completed before people get their hands on new guns.

House Democrat leaders are also backing the governor’s proposal to raise the age limit to buy and possess guns from 18 to 21 years old.

A proposal from Democratic state Rep. Andrea Romero includes several exceptions for hunters, shooting ranges, law enforcement officers, and on private property under parental supervision. Violating either bill would result in a misdemeanor.

KOB 4 saw both of these proposals last year, and Democrat leaders in the Senate believe that gives them a head start.

It’s a similar story for proposed changes to New Mexico’s so-called “red flag law” which has been on the books since 2020.

The Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act works like a temporary restraining order. Every day, New Mexicans can ask judges to confiscate guns from people who are considered a danger to themselves or others.

KOB 4 learned the law has rarely been used in New Mexico – only about 30 cases in Bernalillo County and far fewer across the state. That’s largely because the law is not very easy to use.

Democratic state Rep. Joy Garratt’s proposal would allow law enforcement officers and health care professionals to make those removal requests while also speeding up the court process.

“First responders are the ones who go into houses, go into situations, and often realize that this is a tragedy waiting to happen. And in some cases, there were murder suicides, which this law would have prevented if they themselves could petition,” said Garratt.

Attorney General Raúl Torrez called for improvements to the red flag law back in November, and the bill’s sponsors say law enforcement agencies requested these changes. Regardless, Republican lawmakers say they are firmly against all of the governor’s gun-related proposals.

“The reality is we have a mental health, and we have a career criminal problem. And until we deal with those, passing any gun laws is not going to make any difference,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Ryan Lane. 

It’s safe to expect all of the governor’s gun proposals, including a potential assault weapons ban, will be heard in committees at some point, and they could make it across the finish line. But it appears the three bills we just discussed currently have the most momentum as this session gets started.