Santa Fe mayor proposes gun ban in city buildings, public spaces

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber used his weekly newsletter to address what he believes needs to be done about gun safety. He had a list of seven goals:

  1. Demand action. Our message to the State on gun safety legislation: Lead, follow or get out of the way. If you won’t pass additional meaningful gun laws, then do away with the Constitutional prohibition against our taking action.
  2. Prohibit guns in City buildings and public spaces. We can pass legislation at the local level that keeps guns out of our buildings, parks and other City-owned or controlled spaces. Albuquerque has done it; I’ll be proposing that for Santa Fe.
  3. Provide gun locks and gun safes, free of charge. Too often a gun-related death is a result of a young person getting their hands on their parent’s gun. We’ll provide ways for moms and dads to keep guns out of their kids’ hands or keep them from being able to pull the trigger.
  4. Do gun buy-backs. We’ve done gun buy-backs in cooperation with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. We’ll do more.
  5. Go into the schools to teach gun violence prevention. The largest group of people who are killing other people with guns are between the ages of 18 and 24. We need to get to these young people while they’re in school, so they never pick up a gun in the first place.
  6. Promote mentorship, mental health, behavioral health, and alternate dispute resolution. How many of the young people who are killing other young people are simply lost? It’s up to us to identify them, connect with them, and offer them help and support.
  7. Implement Violence Intervention Programs. Guns, drugs, and gangs are a lethal combination. If we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that we’ve got all three here in Santa Fe. We need an ongoing, sustained program to intervene in the lives of young Santa Feans so they don’t fall into the gang life—and succumb to a gang death.

However, the mayor and the Santa Fe City Council can only do so much. There’s a measure in New Mexico’s state constitution preventing local governments from passing laws stricter than state laws.

Two of the items Webber wants have already happened in Albuquerque – banning guns in city buildings and public spaces, and the fairly new Violence Intervention Program.

Albuquerque City Council passed an ordinance banning guns at city facilities in August of 2020, just a couple months after a shooting during a protest over the Juan de Oñate statue near Old Town.

Meanwhile, the Violence Intervention Program, or VIP, was established just months earlier in Albuquerque to help those at highest risk. City leaders claimed they helped 140 people in the program’s first year.

At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to find compromise on gun reform legislation. He mentioned universal background checks in every state as a potential first step. He also mentioned his bump stock legislation that passed in 2018 – after the mass shooting in Las Vegas – saying that proves there can be compromise.

But Heinrich also admits any success will come down to how many Republican senators are willing to vote in favor of any legislation.

The New Mexico Public Education Department is already looking ahead to next year, trying to find ways to upgrade security and mental health services at schools. PED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus sent a letter to all districts, urging them to update their safety plans. He also believes districts should legally be able to use federal pandemic relief money for mental health initiatives.