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Senate panel votes 6-4 to approve gun show background check bill

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With just a day left in this year’s regular session, a high-profile bill (HB 77) aimed at curbing gun violence is still alive in the Legislature.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 late Thursday to approve House Bill 77, sending it on to the Senate floor. The vote broke down along party lines, with all six Democratic committee members voting in favor and all four Republican committee members voting in opposition.

Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, D-Albuquerque, the measure’s sponsor, said he was “elated” the bill received the late-night hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“This was the hurdle we’ve been waiting to get over since the bill came over to the Senate,” he told the Journal.

However, even if the bill gains full Senate approval by noon Saturday, it would still face one more obstacle in order to move on to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for final consideration. That would come in the form of a House concurrence vote, because a previous Senate committee amended the bill.

Garcia’s bill, which he described as a bipartisan compromise, would require that private sellers at gun shows have background checks done on prospective buyers before they make a sale.

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss was among those who spoke in favor of the measure during Thursday night’s hearing, while a representative from the National Rifle Association and several local gun collectors spoke against the bill. Among other things, they argued the bill would not stop gun violence.

For more background on Garcia’s legislation and the response it’s generated, click here.

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