MLG’s gun proposals largely failed

Photo by Maya Holt / NM News Port

By Mason Seidel

Most of the elements of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ambitious package of gun-related public safety bills didn’t earn enough support to make it through the 2024 legislative session.

What passed: Waiting period and ban on guns at polls

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed HB 129, creating a 7-day “cooling-off” period before receiving a firearm after its initial purchase. The original bill had asked for a 14-day waiting period.

“Waiting periods create a buffer between the time a gun is purchased and possessed, which can help prevent impulsive acts of gun violence,” Sean Holihan, State Legislative Director for GIFFORDS, said in a release. “This period can also give law enforcement the additional time they need to complete background checks.” 

Lead sponsor Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, said, “We are taking a commonsense step to save lives and make communities safer across New Mexico.”

But the National Rifle Association called it a “pointless restriction [that] will have no impact on crime or prevent self-harm.”

The governor also signed SB 5, creating a petty misdemeanor charge for bringing a firearm within 100 feet of any polling place. Lawmakers scaled back the bill by adding exceptions for concealed carry permit holders and Federal Firearms Licensees, as well as transactions between law enforcement officers, law enforcement agencies and immediate family members. It will go into effect before the primary election.

The National Rifle Association called it “a proposal that criminals will ignore and will only serve to disarm law-abiding citizens.”

Lead sponsor Sen. Peter Wirth said: “Guns and voting are a toxic mix. As elections have become known targets for threats and intimidation, it’s important we are enacting this legislation ahead of the upcoming election cycle.” 

New Mexico is one of a minority of states that have passed such legislation, and Allison Anderman with the Brennan Center for Justice said the state is leading the way.

“American democracy stands on a precipice and it is more important than any time in recent history to ensure that people can safely vote and administer elections without the fear of gun violence or intimidation. We are hopeful and confident that other states will follow New Mexico’s lead this year,” Anderman said in a release.

What didn’t pass

HB 127 would have raised the minimum age for firearm purchases to 21. It never made it to the House floor.

HB 137 would have banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. New Mexicans who already own an assault weapon would have been able to keep their weapon after registering it with the Department of Justice. It also died before reaching the floor.

SB 204 would have made it a fourth degree felony to carry a firearm within a playground or park. It failed even though it excluded peace officers and military, and an amendment added people with concealed carry licenses. 

HB 114, the Firearm Industry Accountability Act, would have allowed the public to sue gun manufacturers for deceptive trade practices. 

HB 198 would have increased penalties for felons in possession of firearms. It failed to advance to the floor.