New Mexico House approves waiting period for firearm sales
SANTA FE, N.M. — Gun control took center stage once again at the Roundhouse Friday. House lawmakers spent several hours debating a proposed waiting period for all gun sales – one of the governor’s key public safety initiatives.
The proposal, House Bill 129, cleared the House and is now moving to the Senate.
Democratic state Rep. Andrea Romero originally proposed a mandatory 14 business day waiting period for all gun sales in New Mexico – no exceptions. It’s meant to provide a sort of cooling-off period to allow for federal background checks to be completed.
The proposal faced several changes in the committee process, including updating the time frame to calendar days instead of business days, and adding an exception for immediate family members.
On Friday, House lawmakers went a step further and slashed the proposed waiting period down to seven days. That change narrowly made it through on a 35-34 vote. Supporters suggested it was meant to be a compromise.
“A seven-day waiting period, while less of an inconvenience on our legal, responsible gun owners, would help to prevent some of the suicides that occur during that impulsive 24-hour time period,” state Rep. Meredith Dixon said.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the proposal from the beginning, arguing a mandatory waiting period will not reduce crime or the number of suicides in New Mexico. Like all gun control proposals, they say it’s unconstitutional.
It seems cutting the proposed waiting period in half only ignited those arguments Friday.
“It went from 14, which seemed arbitrary, and now we’ve cut it in half down to seven and somehow that magically creates a beautiful balance,” said state Rep. Ryan Lane, House minority leader. “But again, if the underlying rationale is sometimes the inconvenience is worth saving a life, I don’t see why we would dare cut it in half.”
After three hours of debate, the House approved the amended proposal on a 37-33 vote – meaning several Democrats voted against the bill.
JUST IN: A proposed mandatory waiting period for firearm sales in New Mexico has crossed the halfway point.— Griffin Rushton (@GriffinRushton) February 2, 2024
House lawmakers amended the proposal reducing the waiting period from 14 days to 7 days before approving the bill on a narrow 37-33 vote. #nmlegis @KOB4
It’s worth noting the Senate is expected to debate its own mandatory waiting period bill soon – potentially in the next few days. Their proposal is still at 14 days and includes more exceptions.