New Mexico enacts law to keep guns away from children

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill Friday that makes it a crime to store firearms in places that children could access.

The new law takes effect on June 16. Earlier this year, a 6-year-old student in Virginia shot his teacher, which added to debates across the country about gun control and school safety.

The New Mexico bill would make it a crime to store a firearm in a way that negligently disregards the ability of a child or teenager under age 18 to access it.

Criminal charges could be brought only if the minor later brandishes or displays the firearm in a threatening way, or uses it to kill or injure someone. The proposal would establish both misdemeanor and felony crimes, with penalties of up to 18 months in prison.

Criminal provisions do not apply if a child accesses a gun with authorization of a parent or guardian for lawful purposes including hunting and recreation. The law also includes exceptions when a child accesses a gun for self-defense or to defend others.

Sponsors of the initiative hope it will reduce gun-related deaths and injuries among youths. New Mexico is among the top 10 states for firearms deaths per capita.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.