A recent editorial (“It’s time for common-sense gun measures,” Journal Aug. 12) called for state lawmakers to pass a number of gun control proposals rolled out last week by Democratic lawmakers. “Common-sense gun measures” is a phrase that gun control activists and anti-gun politicians use in hopes that the public and the media will avoid scrutinizing the details of these bills or questioning their enforceability, efficacy, intrusiveness or necessity.
• The gun control crowd plans to resurrect “universal background check” bills similar to the ones legislators rejected in 2017. These measures would force gun owners to pay undetermined fees and obtain government approval before selling a firearm to family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers, or fellow hunters, competitive shooters and gun club members. Supporters will falsely claim they are targeting gun shows and online transactions. But what the legislation really does is ban all private firearms sales between law-abiding citizens. Studies by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that less than one percent of crime guns are acquired at gun shows and background checks are already required before anyone takes delivery of a firearm purchased online. So after five years of debate on this topic, lawmakers will waste more time next year considering unnecessary proposals that have no impact on crime and are unenforceable without gun registration.
• “Extreme risk protective order” legislation touted by gun control advocates would authorize the seizure of firearms and ammunition from individuals who may not have committed or even threatened to commit any unlawful or violent act. Unchallenged statements made by a petitioner in an ex parte proceeding – prior to any formal hearing before a court at which the individual in question would have the opportunity to be represented by counsel or present counterevidence – would be sufficient to allow law enforcement to enter that person’s home and confiscate their lawfully owned property.
These “red flag” bills have encountered opposition in other states because they lacked appropriate due process procedures, among other significant details. The Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU expressed great concern about “the breadth of this legislation, its impact on civil liberties, and the precedent it sets for the use of coercive measures against individuals not because they are alleged to have committed any crime, but because somebody believes they might, someday, commit one.” Source: riaclu.org.
• Another suggested proposal could make gun owners liable if a child gains access to an unsecured firearm. New Mexico has a statute on the books to hold adults accountable for putting children at risk in this way, or any other manner: NMSA Section 30-6-1. Under current law, it is a felony for a responsible person to knowingly, intentionally or negligently place a child in a situation that may endanger the child’s life or health. The tools exist to charge and prosecute parents or guardians in appropriate cases. Sadly, there is no shortage of recent examples in our state of kids being subjected to horrific neglect, abuse and physical violence that has nothing to do with firearms ownership. Bills similar to that being proposed have failed in previous sessions. So once again, lawmakers will spend time next year debating unnecessary gun control legislation and abdicating any responsibility to address the root causes of New Mexico’s at-risk youth.
It’s no surprise that the Democratic nominee for governor, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, has embraced these proposals and is pushing for even more radical measures, such as bans on commonly owned semiautomatic firearms used for hunting, recreational shooting and self-defense, and restrictions on standard magazines used with these guns. She has a long history of supporting the agenda of New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg and his national gun control organizations while serving in Congress. New Mexicans who are concerned about crime and protecting our civil liberties deserve better than what she and at least some of her fellow Democrats are selling: unenforceable, ineffective, intrusive and unnecessary laws that won’t make us any safer.