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Governor: Mass shootings a factor in gun votes

Roundhouse. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday that she believes the Walmart shooting in El Paso and escalating threats of violence at schools helped change the legislative landscape in New Mexico – where policymakers have approved three gun-control bills in the past year.

She also pledged to sign the latest piece of legislation – a proposed red flag law – soon after it reaches her desk. It passed the state House late Thursday, the final approval necessary to send her the bill.

Passage of the proposed Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act comes after a similar measure stalled in the state Senate last year. And after years of failed attempts, the state in 2019 enacted a background checks bill and prohibited the possession of guns by domestic abusers.

Lujan Grisham said school lockdowns – prompted by safety fears – and the shooting at an El Paso Walmart in August contributed to changing attitudes in New Mexico.

The state also has endured school shootings in Aztec in 2017 and Roswell in 2014.

“These risks have shifted and changed the landscape,” Lujan Grisham told reporters Friday, “and I think that’s demonstrating itself in how policymakers are now voting.”

The firearms legislation coincides with increasing Democratic influence inside the Capitol. Lujan Grisham took office in 2019, and Democrats pushed their edge in the House that year to 46-24.

As for future firearms bills, Lujan Grisham said it’s too early to say whether she will push for more gun legislation. The next step, she said, is to evaluate the impact of what’s already been passed.

“We shouldn’t be doing anything we can’t say has a demonstrated impact,” Lujan Grisham said.

Heading into the final week of the session, Lujan Grisham took questions from reporters for about a half-hour Friday and expressed optimism about her legislative priorities. At stake are bills to establish a new scholarship program, creation of a fund to help seniors and a variety of health care proposals.

“Our track record has been pretty good so far,” Lujan Grisham said.

On another topic, the governor said she expects to continue the push to legalize recreational marijuana next year. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week rejected a legalization bill.

“I was disappointed, unquestionably, that we couldn’t get it out of Judiciary,” she said. But “we’re going to keep working at it.”

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