Firearms legislation in New Mexico facing deadline pressure at Capitol - Albuquerque Journal

Firearms legislation in New Mexico facing deadline pressure at Capitol

In this Feb. 7 file photo, Miranda Viscoli of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence and Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, answer questions about a bill to create a 14-day waiting period to purchase guns. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Proposals to ban firearms at polling places and target the online sale of illegal gun modifications remain in play as New Mexico lawmakers head into the final 36 hours of a combative 60-day session.

But a host of other gun bills face increasingly long odds as adjournment looms.

Bills to ban AR-15-style rifles and boost the minimum age to buy certain firearms are stuck in committee, nowhere near final passage.

Just one measure has reached Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and been signed into law so far — legislation making it a crime to fail to keep a firearm out of kids’ reach.

Supporters and opponents alike are conflicted on the legislative outcomes at this point. And, of course, nothing is truly dead until noon Saturday, the end of the session.

“It’s been bad, but not anywhere near as bad as it could have been,” Zac Fort of the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association said Thursday.

He and other opponents of gun legislation say the bills would target law-abiding citizens while not deterring crime.

Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, said she’s grateful to lawmakers and Lujan Grisham for approving House Bill 9, the child-access prevention law — the culmination of a five-year campaign.

And the groundwork, she said, is laid for action next year to establish a 14-day waiting period for gun sales. Different versions of the bill have cleared committees in each chamber this session but haven’t been taken up for final action.

If they aren’t passed this year, Viscoli said, she’s confident the governor will add them to the agenda of next year’s 30-day session.

“The majority of our gun deaths are suicide and crimes of passion,” she said. “That is exactly what that law will reduce.”

Rep. Andrea Romero, a Santa Fe Democrat and co-sponsor of the waiting-period bills, said she remains hopeful one will be taken up this year in both chambers.

“They’re going to be long debates,” she said. “The question is, can we fit it in?”

Earlier this week, Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who has backed firearms restrictions, said the proposals that don’t make it through this year may be reintroduced in next year’s session.

This year’s legislative session has brought gun enthusiasts, law enforcement officers, family members who have lost loved ones to shootings and others to testify on an array gun proposals, largely backed by Democrats.

One bipartisan proposal — co-sponsored by House Minority Leader Ryan Lane, R-Aztec — would make it a crime to buy a gun for a felon or someone else who isn’t legally allowed to have a firearm.

The proposal, House Bill 306, advanced through the House last week and won Senate approval 28-10 late Thursday, sending it to the governor.

Two other gun bills — fiercely contested by Republicans — are at an advanced stage.

Legislation awaiting action by the full House would ban firearms within 100 feet of a polling place. The proposal, Senate Bill 44, is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

A second measure, Senate Bill 428, would revise the state’s Unfair Practices Act to target the sale of illegal firearms and parts, allowing the filing of lawsuits to enforce the act.

Sen. Joseph Cervantes, a Las Cruces Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said it’s intended to address online sellers who offer firearm modifications and accessories that are illegal.

It’s drawn opposition from gun enthusiasts who say it could have unintended effects on licensed firearms dealers.

“It would make it really hard to get the insurance you need to operate a gun store in New Mexico,” Fort, of the shooting sports association, said.

Under deadline pressure, lawmakers are set to decide the fate of the bill in the next day and a half.

Status of gun bills in New Mexico

Approved by lawmakers

— House Bill 9: Create the crime of negligently making a firearm accessible to a minor

— House Bill 306: Prohibit buying a firearm for another person who is legally banned from purchasing it on their own

Advanced through one chamber, awaiting action in other

— Senate Bill 44: Prohibit carrying a firearm within 100 feet of a polling place during an election

— Senate Bill 428: Include firearms in the Unfair Practices Act

Awaiting action in each chamber, would still need the other’s approval

— House Bill 100: Establish a 14-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm

— Senate Bill 427: Establish a 14-day waiting period, but with an exception for buyers who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm

Stuck in committee

— Senate Bill 116: Raise the minimum age to 21 for purchasing or possessing an automatic or semiautomatic firearm.

— House Bill 101: Prohibit sale or possession of assault weapons and assault weapon attachments

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