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Democratic governor hopefuls on packing heat

The Democratic candidates for governor in the June 3 primary election have varying positions on the issue of guns.

The winner of the primary will face off in the fall election against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who is a quick draw with her pro-gun credentials.

“Support Concealed Carry & our 2nd Amendment rights,” Martinez wrote in recent postings on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

The postings include a link to a campaign website page where the governor wrote, “Some on the Left believe they can score political points by pushing gun control legislation.”


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Here’s a look at where the Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, in alphabetical order, stand:

State Attorney General Gary King: He has been licensed to carry a concealed handgun and has received an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association for his longtime support of gun-ownership rights.

King said in an email that closing the so-called gun show loophole is more complicated than it appears. (Individuals can buy firearms from private sellers at gun shows without background checks. Buyers of guns from federally licensed firearm dealers are subject to checks.)

“Generally, I support the law as it is now,” he wrote. “I have been working to ensure that mentally ill persons and felons do not get to own guns, however, and I think that is the objective we should try to reach.”

King said he supports thorough training in gun safety for young people and opposes registering guns.

In 2012, King joined the Second Amendment Foundation in a court challenge to a Maryland law that said a person must have “good and substantial reason” to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The Maryland law was upheld.

State Sen. Linda Lopez: She voted in 2003 against the law that allows concealed carry of handguns by permit, and she voted in 2010 against the law that permits concealed carry in restaurants with wine and beer licenses.

Lopez did vote in 2005 for the law that lowered the minimum age for concealed carry permits from 25 to 21.


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The senator said that, although she voted against concealed carry, it’s now the law. She said she doesn’t have a concealed carry permit.

Lopez said she supports Second Amendment rights, but that gun owners need to keep firearms locked and away from children. “It’s about responsibility,” she said.

In 1999, the senator sponsored a bill that would have required federally licensed firearms dealers to advise buyers of safe storage practices for guns and to give buyers the opportunity to buy safety locks or locked containers for purchased firearms. The legislation failed in the Senate.

Lopez said she supports closing the gun show loophole.

State Sen. Howie Morales: He wasn’t a member of the Senate when the concealed carry law was passed in 2001.

Morales said he doesn’t have a concealed carry permit but supports concealed carry. In 2010, he voted for the law that permits concealed carry in restaurants with wine and beer licenses.

The senator said he supports legislation to require background checks for purchasers of firearms from private parties at gun shows. He wrote in an email:

“However, closing ‘gun show loopholes’ does not go far enough. Firearms can still be purchased at estate sales and through various online entities far too easily, as well. The sale of any and all firearms needs to be regulated and closely tracked.”

He also said, “We do need to regulate the type of firearms that are sold. There is no practical reason for everyday citizens to own assault rifles or firearms with high-capacity ammo clips.”

Morales added, “Having a certified permit needs to be a requirement for any type of gun ownership.”

Former government administrator Lawrence Rael: His campaign said he doesn’t have a concealed carry permit.

“Lawrence supports our Second Amendment rights and he supports concealed carry. He believes in common sense measures, so he does not support concealed carry in bars and restaurants,” the campaign said in an email.

Concealed carry remains illegal in establishments with full liquor licenses.

While chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque in 2001, Rael supported City Council consideration of a proposal to ban concealed handguns in Albuquerque.

Rael said at a City Council meeting that the administration of then-Mayor Jim Baca favored further discussion of the ban and that many people came to the meeting to make comments.

A campaign spokeswoman said Rael’s comments reflected the views of Baca and that Rael didn’t support a city ban on concealed weapons.

The City Council decided against consideration of the proposed ban. A council committee had previously rejected it.

The Rael campaign said he supports requiring background checks for purchasers of firearms from private sellers at gun shows.

Magazine co-founder and editor Alan Webber: His campaign said he has a concealed carry permit.

Webber favors background checks for all buyers of firearms from private parties, whether the purchases take place at gun shows or elsewhere, according to the campaign.

He also wants New Mexico to become a so-called point-of-contact state, meaning the state and not the FBI would conduct background checks for firearm purchases. States have access to information that typically isn’t available to the FBI, the Webber campaign said.

Webber also wants to ban firearm possession by people subject to emergency or temporary restraining orders.

Under federal law, subjects of domestic violence protective orders are prohibited from having guns but only if the orders were issued after hearings and if the subjects had notice of the hearings.

In the wake of the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in 2011, Webber wrote in The Washington Post that it was a Glock semiautomatic handgun – not political rhetoric – that killed and wounded.

Webber added:

“If you want to be a leader in the wake of this most recent tragedy, why not address the real issue: the easy availability of semiautomatic handguns that serve only one purpose – to shoot and kill innocent people.”

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to to submit a letter to the editor.