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New vote sought on firearm provision

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Five years after failing to gain traction with a similar effort, Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson has once again trained her sights on the possible repeal of a state constitutional amendment barring cities from enacting gun-related restrictions.

Per a 1986 voter-approved amendment, the New Mexico Constitution currently says that no municipal or county government “shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.”

But Gibson and Councilor Isaac Benton want the Albuquerque City Council to encourage the New Mexico Legislature to put the issue back before voters.

“It is now timely for the citizens of New Mexico to once again consider whether the 1986 Amendment should remain in place,” according to a City Council resolution the duo introduced earlier this month. It asks the New Mexico Legislature to authorize an election so that voters can decide if the amendment should be repealed.

It is ultimately only a request that the Legislature is not obligated to heed – and that’s only if the city council passes it at all when it votes next month.

Gibson says she has no major legislation waiting in the wings but contends the constitutional amendment is worth a fresh review.

“That’s a long time ago,” she said of the 1986 vote. “There’s a lot that’s changed.”

Gibson sponsored a similar council resolution in 2015, but it failed. In a committee-level vote, four of five councilors voted to send it to the council with a “do not pass” recommendation.

But Gibson says she believes the time is right to bring it back. A council committee on Monday voted 4-1 to advance the bill to the full council without a recommendation one way or another.

“I think it’s a serious enough or important enough bill that it should be heard before the full council,” Councilor Klarissa Peña said during the committee’s discussion.

Only Councilor Brook Bassan voted against sending it to the entire council, noting that she will not support the resolution.

“I think everybody (understands) that I am not in support of going ahead to allow the local municipalities to dictate anything regarding the Second Amendment, which is a federal privilege that we have,” Bassan said.

But Council President Pat Davis applauded Gibson for initiating the discussion. He last September introduced a trio of gun-related bills – including one that would ban guns from City Hall and other city property that Gibson and Benton co-sponsored – but they have yet to go through the council’s committee process. Davis said that could begin as early as this month.

While Davis said during Monday’s committee meeting that the 1986 constitutional amendment may have been “well-intentioned,” it has shown it is “standing in the way of cities like Albuquerque and others of doing what’s reasonable to protect our employees.”

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