At the Capitol: Middle Ground or “Stand Your Ground?”February 8th, 2013 at 6:53 pm by Alex Goldsmith under N.M. Politics
Gun control has become one of the top issues this legislative session, and the bill that has had the most consistent discussion around it is Albuquerque Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia’s House Bill 77, also known as the Firearm Transfers Act.
It’s a bill that’s evolved weekly.
When it was initially introduced, it required the Department of Public Safety to set up a hotline to do background checks on private and gun show sales of firearms. Records of those checks would’ve been kept, contrary to background checks federally licensed gun dealers are required to make before selling guns.
The registry portion was taken off during an initial hearing in House Judiciary, but the bill failed to clear committee on a tie vote.
Garcia re-worked the bill to have background checks run through licensed gun dealers. That brought up concerns that some New Mexicans may not live close enough to easily get one of those checks done.
Now there appears to be a bipartisan compromise.
Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, told me both sides have agreed on a bill, in principle, that could clear House Judiciary and ultimately make it to the governor’s desk.
The bill would require background checks only at New Mexico gun shows. It would also increase and improve the data New Mexico sends to the feds about a citizen’s mental health history so that the information would pop up during a background check.
That may get support in the Legislature, but a big pro-gun contingent doesn’t like it one bit.
A “Stand Your Ground” rally with dozens of gun-rights advocates camped outside of the Roundhouse with no shortage of signs or openly carried semi-automatic weapons.
The theme: don’t give one inch when it comes to gun rights.
While rally organizer Bob Wright told me Santa Fe Democratic Rep. Stephen Easley’s proposed statewide assault-weapons ban was the most galling to him, he had a problem with HB 77, too. His concern is that records of background checks would be kept anyway, effectively creating a list of gun owners for the federal government to keep.
While many more conservative state representatives may agree with Wright’s position, if the governor gives the thumbs up to a compromise bill, gun-show background checks could soon become the norm in New Mexico.
As of the writing of this blog, the background check compromise had yet to be introduced in House Judiciary or voted on.
Bill of the Day: Senate Bill 460
Repeat drunk drivers are very frustrating to New Mexico drivers who get behind the wheel sober.
Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, wants to make a big statement about the true problem cases.
His bill would take away someone’s driver’s license for life if they’re convicted of five or more DWIs, whether those DWI convictions happened in New Mexico or not.
SB 460 is in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.