From the Roundhouse: Gun FightFebruary 5th, 2014 at 6:04 pm by Alex Goldsmith under N.M. Politics
Gun control is heating up at the Roundhouse again, but in a very different manner.
Separate proposals banning guns in the Senate and in the House got their first committee hearings Wednesday and drew some interesting discussion.
Currently the New Mexico State Capitol building is one of the most open in the country. Lawmakers are protected by armed New Mexico State Police officers and security hired for the session.
However there are no metal detectors and no ID checks like there are in other state capitol and federal buildings. Currently concealed or openly carried guns are allowed in both the House and Senate chambers, committee rooms and the rest of the Roundhouse.
The intense debate over proposals to ban assault weapons in New Mexico and another proposal requiring background checks on gun sales at gun shows caused some lawmakers to become a little uneasy.
Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, told the Senate Rules committee this morning that he’d heard from constituents who were afraid to attend gun control hearings.
Wirth and Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, are sponsoring mirroring bans on carrying guns in their respective chambers. Both proposals included exemptions for law enforcement (but not lawmakers) and both had very different fates.
The Senate version appeared to die a fairly quick death. Senators on the Rules committee expressed concern that enforcing the proposed rule would be very difficult and could change the open culture of the Roundhouse by necessitating increased security and metal detectors in the future.
The proposal was tabled on a 4-2 vote, with three Democrats voting against the idea.
Over in the House, the idea is still alive, albeit amended.
At its hearing in front of House Judiciary, Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, introduced and got approval for an amendment that exempts concealed carry permit holders from the gun ban.
After getting amended the rule change moved forward, advancing on a 9-8 party-line vote. It still has to clear the House Rules Committee and the House floor. That floor vote could be especially tricky given that House Democrats remain shorthanded.
It’s definitely a proposal we’ll be tracking as the 30-day session heads into its second half.
INTERESTING BILL OF THE DAY
Be careful who you hand the keys of your car too, especially if the buddy you’re giving those keys to has a DWI record.
SB 288, introduced by Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, would make someone criminally liable if they let someone they know has a suspended or revoked license drive because of a DWI conviction get behind the wheel of their car. It’s an idea the Governor brought up during her State of the State address.