Editorial: Narrow gun-control bills to those that make sense - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Narrow gun-control bills to those that make sense

It’s delusional to believe that even the most talented lawmakers can write any type of gun-control legislation that would prevent someone intent on obtaining a gun for nefarious reasons from doing so. But that should never deter lawmakers from trying to make it as difficult as possible for that to occur.

Gun-control legislation currently making its way through the state Legislature includes some common-sense measures, like requiring firearms purchasers at gun shows to undergo a federal background check, and barring people who are neither law enforcement officers nor licensed conceal-carriers from carrying firearms in the state Capitol.

Other proposed measures, however, would be almost impossible to enforce – such as requiring background checks for person-to-person sales and for giving or lending a firearm to someone, other than a “close” relative, for more than five days.

Both background checks at gun shows and for person-to-person exchanges are contained in House Bill 50, introduced by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, and Senate Bill 48, by Sens. Richard Martinez, D-Española, and Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

The bills would require a private buyer and seller to go to a licensed firearms dealer to have the background check done for an unspecified “reasonable fee.” The requirement would include gun shows and the buyers and sellers there.

In reality, if the buyer suspects he won’t pass a background check, he’s going to buy a gun in the same clandestine way criminals buy them now. That leaves only legitimate sellers and legitimate buyers with the extra burden of undergoing and paying for a background check.

Still, limiting the unrestricted sale of guns – when such measures are enforceable – makes sense. And that’s why narrowing the bill to focus on closing the gun-show loophole might well be the best way to go.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who barely survived a gunshot wound to the head during a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, was at the Roundhouse on Wednesday to lobby for stricter gun control. She announced the formation of the New Mexico Coalition for Common Sense, a group hoping to advance policies that “help keep guns out of the wrong hands,” according to a news release. The coalition, which includes law enforcement, prosecutors, gun owners, ranchers, an NAACP representative and others, would be a good group to include in the discussion.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 337, a bipartisan bill that would prevent the open carrying of firearms in the Capitol, sponsored by Sens. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, and William Sharer, R-Farmington, removes the intimidation factor that the open carrying of a firearm is meant to induce.

Many people found the front-page photo on Monday’s Journal, which shows a man wearing a holstered semi-automatic handgun inside the Capitol on Jan. 31 while gun-control legislation was being discussed, well, disarming.

Sharer acknowledged that his measure isn’t about safety and won’t stop a determined individual from entering the Capitol and firing away.

“If somebody wants to kill one of us, they’re going to do it,” Sharer said. “We can’t stop it – not with this bill, not with any bill.”

But this bill would undoubtedly make it harder for gun-toters to intimidate lawmakers and others doing business in our seat of government.

Meanwhile, in addition to armed Capitol guards, there are lawmakers in the Roundhouse who are licensed conceal-carry permittees who would remain unaffected by passage of the bill. Any way you look at it, that’s an added measure of safety should the unthinkable ever become a reality.

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.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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