Giffords, Lujan Grisham push for new gun laws in New Mexico

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, left, and his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, speak in favor of new gun laws while Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham and Miranda Lovato, who survived the Las Vegas concert shooting, look on. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords – who survived an assassination attempt in 2011 – joined gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday to push for stiffer gun restrictions in New Mexico.

Lujan Grisham, a Democratic congresswoman from Albuquerque, said that as governor, she would support a legislative package to expand background checks to all gun purchases and prohibit domestic abusers from buying firearms.

She also supports the creation of an “extreme risk protection order” – a legal process intended to allow family members or law enforcement to seek temporary court orders to confiscate firearms from someone they fear may hurt themselves or others.

A crowd of supporters jammed into Lujan Grisham’s campaign headquarters in Downtown Albuquerque to hear Giffords and others speak.

“These are scary times – racism, sexism, lies, violence,” Giffords said. “It’s time to stand up for what’s right.”

Giffords, who represented southern Arizona, was shot in the head seven years ago during a meeting with constituents. She endorsed Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial bid Wednesday.

Joining them on stage were Giffords’ husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and Miranda Lovato, a New Mexico State University graduate forced to run when a gunman opened fire at a concert in Las Vegas, Nev.

Lujan Grisham said that if elected, she would aim for bipartisan support for a package of gun legislation in the 2019 session.

“New Mexico does not have the kind of gun violence reforms and safety initiatives that we need,” she said.

The Roundhouse is often a skeptical environmental for firearm restrictions. Republicans – and some Democrats, especially from rural areas – argue that criminals aren’t going to let a background check, or similar law, stop them.

A campaign spokesman for U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for governor, said Lujan Grisham supports “extreme policies,” such as a ban on AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles.

“Steve Pearce supports the constitutional rights of all law abiding New Mexicans,” spokesman Kevin Sheridan said Wednesday. “He believes we must do more to protect kids in schools, strengthen and hold accountable law enforcement, fix the flawed mental health system, and get criminals off the streets.”

Pearce, he added, “does not believe that taking away the freedoms of New Mexicans is an answer to any of the state’s problems.”

Few restrictions on gun ownership have made it through the Legislature in recent years. Democrats hold majorities in both chambers.

One bill that did make it through – a proposal to require domestic violence offenders to surrender their firearms, at least temporarily – was vetoed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in 2017.

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