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Editorial: Background check on gun sales difficult to enforce

An informed observer could have spotted this showdown a mile away.

Democrats took the New Mexico House of Representatives and the Governor’s Office, bolstering the majority they already had in the state Senate.

As one mass shooting after another dominated the news, Democrats rolled out gun control measures, ultimately passing a measure that requires background checks for nearly all gun buys.

In response, at least 26 New Mexico counties passed “Second Amendment sanctuary” ordinances. A number of sheriffs declared they flat-out wouldn’t enforce the law.

The most recent chapter in the saga, according to an April 6 Journal story, was state Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, writing a letter to law enforcement agencies in New Mexico warning them of their duty to uphold the law, even when they don’t agree with it.

In theory, we agree with Balderas.

The Journal has traditionally held that public servants don’t get to pick and choose what laws to enforce, whether it’s guns or cooperating with immigration agents.

We even agreed with legislators that expanding background checks was a common-sense check on weapons trading. Why wouldn’t you want to background check everyone who buys a gun?

But political posturing and base pandering aside, law enforcement agencies have a point, and Balderas has a serious problem.

How are New Mexico law enforcement officers supposed to enforce this law?

If Bobby wants to sell his .22 to Susie, what’s to stop him from conducting the transaction in his own living room?

Or a more modern example: If gunluvr42 wants to sell a 9 mm to 2A4eva on Craigslist, what’s to stop the two from meeting up in the parking lot of the EspaƱola Walmart to make the trade?

Is Johnny Law supposed to start staking out Facebook groups and newspaper classifieds to make sure two private citizens don’t somehow conduct a gun sale without running background checks on each other?

The logistics pose a real challenge.

Hopefully Balderas will dispense with the public scolding and get down to offering helpful direction.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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