The Second Amendment states “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The amendment allows citizens to carry firearms for lawful purposes unrelated to service to a militia, defending themselves against threats infringing upon their personal freedoms.
Unfortunately, many people take up arms not specifically to defend themselves, but to cause harm.
New Mexico’s population in 2020 was 2.1 million people, and currently there are almost 98,000 registered firearms in the state. New Mexico does not require registering firearms. It does require a concealed carry permit.
Firearm-related deaths have increased by 55% since 2010, per state health officials. In 2020, 23 people died for every 100,000 New Mexicans, placing the state in second for gun violence on a national level.
It feels like every few days, we turn on the news only to hear about another shooting. These shootings do not discriminate. Victims are children and the elderly, and people of different backgrounds, beliefs, genders and cultures. But many people become inurred to shootings based on frequency. It should not be normal to live in fear of gun violence or become so used to it that we are surprised when we go about our day without hearing about a shooting.
Over the last 12 years, state legislators have considered 104 bills focused on firearm controls, convictions, safety and licensing. Data have revealed some of those laws have not been actively enforced and less than 1% of the 11,784 pieces of legislation the Roundhouse considered are related to gun control.
Multiple laws make it a crime to carry a firearm or other deadly weapon under certain circumstances. The current law to conceal-carry requires the applicant to complete a firearm training course, be at least 21 years old, be a U.S. citizen, and be a New Mexico resident. Notably, New Mexico has no limit on magazine capacity or weapon types.
In 2019, New Mexico passed the Family Violence Protection Act to prevent violent gun crime resulting from domestic violence. The law allows law enforcement to take possession of guns that the owner relinquishes. However, there is no requirement for a mental health test for purchasing or carrying weapons, which is an important issue.
To truly reduce gun-related deaths and violence, lawmakers should consider requiring licenses for all new firearms, mental health tests for all carrier types, and training on the impact of firearms.
In Santa Fe County in 2021, there were approximately 11 homicides, including two teens, and six shootings involving local law enforcement, four of them fatal.
More stringent gun reform is needed to protect gun owners and non-gun owners alike. If there is reform, perhaps the number of deaths can be lowered, and we won’t hear about it on the news as often.