Sophia Lussiez, 17, and Julia Mazal, 16, aren’t really asking for much.
The two students from Santa Fe – Mazal is going to United World College in Montezuma and Lussiez attends Desert Academy – were spurred to action by the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February and the student activism that emerged from it.
They are working on state legislation that would hold New Mexico gun owners liable under state law for not properly securing weapons away from children 17 or younger.
Sanctions for violators could depend on whether the gun was loaded or unloaded and how the minor who obtained the firearm used it. The goal of Mazal and Lussiez is to help protect children, including them and their classmates, from gun violence.
“Because we should already have it in place,” says Lussiez of the proposal. “We should already be safe.”
“There’s a certain responsibility that has to be known when you own a gun,” said Mazal. “As the sophistication of our guns evolve, so should our laws.”
Lussiez cites a case last year where police said a Santa Fe High student who wrote up plans for a school shooting told them he would have carried out the mayhem, but he didn’t have a gun.
“It won’t take anyone’s guns away,” Mazal said. “It would just promote safe storage of them.”
That seems to be perfect sense, or common sense – something often missing in the debate over gun laws.
Gun legislation has struggled in the Roundhouse over the past several years. The Legislature this year couldn’t even bring itself +to ban “bump stocks” that enable semiautomatic firearms to shoot more quickly.
But maybe the political climate has changed just enough for something like Mazal and Lussiez are proposing with the help of state Rep. Linda Trujillo, D-Santa Fe.
Correctly, Trujillo calls the measure “gun reform” instead of the toxic “gun control.”
“This legislation has nothing to do with any of the concerns people have,” said Trujillo. “Your 2nd Amendment rights are still there. We’re just saying the numbers show unlocked guns that kids have access to are dangerous.”
So far, nothing is set in stone about penalties or whether the bill would say negligent gun owners could also be sued in civil court.
But doing nothing at all in this area of the law is no longer acceptable.
The two Santa Fe students are not shy about directly addressing the lawmakers who will decide the fate of their bill, which will go by the title of The Child Access Prevention Act.
“One thing I really want to push,” Lussiez said, “is they’re the people that are supposed to protect us, and they haven’t.”