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Legislator proposes ban on gun ‘bump stocks’

Rep. Matthew McQueen

SANTA FE – The debate over banning “bump stocks” – devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire more rapidly – may hit the Roundhouse this session.

State Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, filed legislation Friday that would make it a fourth-degree felony to possess a bump stock, defined as a device that quickens the rate of fire of a semiautomatic weapon.

However, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez would likely have to add the proposal to the agenda of the session that begins Jan. 16 in order for it to be considered, as the session is otherwise limited to budget and tax bills, legislation vetoed in the previous session and constitutional amendments. The governor has power to add other bills or topics to the agenda in 30-day sessions, which are held in even-numbered years.

McQueen said quick consideration of the bill is important after the Las Vegas attack earlier this year, in which a gunman, with help from bump stocks, fired hundreds of rounds into a crowd of concertgoers.

“There’s no reason to wait,” McQueen said. “To me, this is a public safety issue. Let’s get it done now.”

A spokesman for the governor didn’t respond to a request for a comment.

Martinez, a former prosecutor, has repeatedly described herself as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. But she also has said she’s open to common-sense legislation on firearms.

The National Rifle Association has opposed a full ban on bump stocks at the federal level, arguing that it’s better to address people’s behavior and that bans are ineffective.

The purchase of fully automatic weapons is restricted, but bump stocks are legal.

The filing of McQueen’s bill, House Bill 17, came on Friday, the first day legislators could file bills for the legislative session. In all, more than 50 pieces of legislation were filed.

Also Friday, Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, said he will introduce legislation requiring broadband providers to practice “net neutrality” in New Mexico.

The Federal Communications Commission decided this week to repeal rules that prohibit internet service providers from slowing or blocking websites and apps and charging more for faster speeds.

The authority of states to regulate net neutrality isn’t clear, but Morales said New Mexico can impose net neutrality rules as a condition of accessing public rights of way and in-state contracts.