New Mexico lawmakers consider state law preventing straw purchases

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SANTA FE, N.M. — State lawmakers are working to prevent what’s called a “straw purchase” – that’s when someone buys a gun for another person who’s legally not allowed to have one, or if they know that person wants to cause harm with that gun. Right now, there’s no state law preventing those purchases.

House Bill 306 would change that. The bipartisan proposal cleared the House floor Friday with only three lawmakers voting against it.

HB 306 would make those purchases a fourth-degree felony, which comes with an 18-month prison sentence.

Lawmakers said straw purchases are one of the biggest drivers of gun violence in the nation.

“The Department of Justice did a study on where felons obtain their firearm, and the number one way was stolen,” said Rep. Bill Rehm. “The number two way was from a straw purchase, so you’re addressing the number two way that they obtain their weapons.”

The gun control proposal has gained attention in and out of the Roundhouse because it’s being carried by Republicans, who have firmly stood against other gun-related bills this year.

Rep. Ryan Lane addressed the need for this kind of legislation on the floor Friday.

“We have a real problem of career criminals obtaining firearms where they shouldn’t be allowed to do that, and so is this the fix? Of course not,” Lane said. “I think we need to tackle career criminals obtaining firearms in a number of ways, but this is certainly one of those that can help with both local law enforcement and our prosecutors.”

Some lawmakers noted straw purchases are already a federal crime with a 10-year sentence attached. Lane said this bill is meant to give state prosecutors more options.

HB 306 is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

Track HB 306 during the legislative session.