Editorial: Hey NM lawmakers, your public wants gun safety - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Hey NM lawmakers, your public wants gun safety

Polls show there is strong support for gun safety measures.

Seventy-two percent of voters surveyed in a recent Journal Poll said they support increasing the minimum age to buy an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. Slightly more, 73%, said they support making it a crime to fail to safely secure firearms from children.

Those numbers shouldn’t be surprising after a string of deadly mass shootings across the nation and record-setting homicides in the Metro. What may be surprising is the support among Republicans, who have typically opposed just about any gun control measures.

The Journal Poll found 61% of Republican voters surveyed support making it a crime to fail to store guns safely around children and 53% support raising the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style rifles.

The weight of gun violence is crossing party lines nationwide. A poll by the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center showed 71% of Americans say gun laws should be stricter, including about half of Republicans.

The shift in public opinion, particularly among Republicans, has created bipartisan momentum upon which N.M. lawmakers can draw and enact meaningful reforms, not just politically motivated window dressing.

Granted, both of these measures fall short of what many gun-control advocates want. But the poll results may help lawmakers of major parties come together in next year’s legislative session to hammer out important bills that make it a crime to leave guns within reach of children and that work to keep assault-style rifles out of the hands of teenagers. There have been too many mass shootings by young men.

We’ve got to do something more than modestly expanding background checks or passing a rarely used “red-flag” law allowing guns to be seized from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Polls show the public wants additional firearm safety measures. The open question is whether our lawmakers can put the politics aside, honor Second Amendment rights and come together with police, prosecutors and the public on measures aimed at addressing gun violence, not boosting political fundraising.

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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