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We can’t wait for Congress. NM should act to prevent mass shootings now

Congress refuses to enact reasonable and responsible gun control measures by banning all assault weapons.

In August there were 38 murdered, 78 injured by AR-style weapons: in El Paso, 22 murdered, 26 injured; in Odessa/Midland, seven murdered, 25 injured; in Dayton, nine murdered, 27 injured.

It could easily happen in Las Cruces, Albuquerque or Santa Fe, or any city in New Mexico during a public event such as the Balloon Fiesta or the New Mexico State Fair.

During the 2019 legislative session, laws mandating background checks on gun sales and a law prohibiting the possession of guns by convicted domestic abusers were passed (and) signed into law, but more needs to be done. Gov. (Michelle) Lujan Grisham’s Aug. 13 … Domestic Terrorism Summit was successful. After the summit, other major proposals were announced including:

1. Increase hate-crime penalties. The criminal penalty for those convicted of hate crimes would be increased. Currently, if a criminal defendant is proved to be motivated by the victim’s race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation, the jail sentence can be enhanced by one year.

2. Expand the state’s mental health system. This has been a major priority of the governor given her longstanding positions on mental health over the years.

3. Create a new anti-terrorism law enforcement unit. This no doubt will be the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security to implement and coordinate statewide law enforcement efforts.

4. Improve data-sharing about potential threats. The state Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department will start enrolling all 33 county sheriffs in a data-sharing program so individuals deemed a potential risk can be flagged and monitored.

5. Extending background checks on private gun sales to sellers of firearms.

Other legislative proposals that should be considered by the New Mexico Legislature to curtail domestic terrorism and gun violence include:

1. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote. There is no doubt such action would generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.

2. Ban in New Mexico the manufacture, sale and distribution of semi-automatic firearms, AR-15 style rifles, assault weapons, semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic shotguns and weapons to the general public.

3. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost gun” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.

4. Require in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.

6. Enact “red flag” legislation for a violence restraining order and allow for an “extreme risk protection process” to prohibit an individual deemed by a judge as posing a danger to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove firearms and ammunition in the individual’s possession.

7. Expand restrictions on firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

8. Allocate funding to the school systems and higher education institutions to “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.

Until Congress acts, there will be more mass shootings at soft targets such as schools, movie theaters, malls, department stores and major public events. The mass shootings will be followed by a cycle of news coverage, more outrage, more candlelight vigils, more funerals, more condolences, more rhetoric demanding action. In the end, nothing will be done by Congress with no ban of assault weapons.

New Mexico needs to act on its own before a mass shooting happens here.

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