Two major gun control measures were enacted by the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, one requiring back ground checks on private sales of guns and the other requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender firearms.
On March 8, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law Senate Bill 8 enacted by the 2019 New Mexico legislature which requires background checks for guns sold privately and at gun shows.
Private gun sales will have to go through a federal firearms licensee to do a federal instant background check.
28 counties and municipalities in the state have passed “gun sanctuary resolutions” in defiance to the legislative gun control measures
It remains to be seen how law enforcement will know if buyers and sellers are even bothering to follow the law and if law enforcement agencies will make such investigations a priority and charge people for violating the law.
Law enforcement officials critical of the new law passed argue it will have to be based on a type of honor system that hopes people follow the law, then hope if a criminal is caught with a gun he admits as to who he got it from, and then proving the seller ignored the background check law.
Elected sheriff’s across New Mexico strenuously objected to the legislation and mounted a strong lobbying campaign to defeat passage to the point of appearing before the legislative committees in mass, fully uniformed and armed to make their point of disdain for the legislation.
On March 21, 2019, it was reported New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver rejected a proposal by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives calling for a statewide referendum on Senate Bill 8.
REQUIRING DOMESTIC ABUSERS TO SURRENDER FIREARMS
The 2019 New Mexico Legislature passed Senate Bill 328 which prohibits gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act.
The bill was jointly sponsored by Democratic Senators Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez of Albuquerque and Democratic Representative Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque.
Under the enacted legislation domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement.
The gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes such as battery on a household member.
Opponents of the Senate Bill 328 said people could lose their guns based on a false allegation, without adequate legal protections.
Supporters argued that the measure would help protect families.
NEW MEXICO RANKS 10TH HIGHEST IN COUNTRY FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
State Representative Debra Armstrong had this to say in support of the legislation:
“When a gun is present in a situation of domestic violence, it is five times more likely that a woman will be killed.”
Representative Armstrong was not exaggerating given New Mexico’s domestic violence crisis.
On September 16, 2017, according to an annual study published by the Violence Policy Center, it was reported women are more likely to be killed by men in New Mexico than nearly any other state.
The study found the state has the 10th-highest rate of women killed by men, marking the third straight year New Mexico had appeared toward the top of the list, while New Mexico’s overall homicide rate ranked lower.
A New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee study described New Mexico’s response to domestic violence as fragmented and uncoordinated.
The Legislative Finance Committee report also highlighted the judiciary’s inability to provide effective oversight of domestic violence offenders.
Battery on a household member is a misdemeanor but the magistrate courts and the metro court which handle misdemeanor cases have limited ability to monitor offenders serving probation for domestic violence.
The report found that New Mexico spends little on treatment programs for domestic violence offenders and has little evidence of the effectiveness of those programs.
The study counted 16 women killed by men in New Mexico during 2015, the most recent year for which data was are available at the time.
The rate of 1.52 victims per 100,000 women is higher than the national rate of 1.12.
Nearly all the woman killed were by someone they knew.
Most of the killings were not connected to any other felony.
Half followed arguments between the victim and her killer.
New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade.
The Violence Policy Center promotes gun control and found that each state at the top of the list of women killed by men have a high rate of firearm ownership which no doubt includes New Mexico’s gun culture.
Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and live in poverty.
Study after study reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up with mental health problems and become an abuser of their own children and spouse.
For more see the following links:
A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS IN FAVOR OF STRICTER GUN LAWS
A poll was taken before and after the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand regarding Americans in favor of stricter gun laws.
According to a new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, a majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws.
The poll found that most Americans believe places of worship and schools have become less safe over the last two decades.
The poll found that 67% of Americans support making United States gun laws stricter, while 22% say the gun laws should be left alone and 10% think they should be made less strict.
Overall, 6 in 10 Americans support a ban on AR-15 rifles and similar semiautomatic weapons.
Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats, but just about 4 in 10 Republicans, support a ban on AR-15 rifles.
Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to think that making it harder to buy a gun would prevent mass shootings, 36% to 81%.
Overall, 58% of Americans think making it harder to buy a gun would prevent mass shootings.
The poll did reveal that some gun restrictions get wide support across party lines.
Wide percentages of both Democrats and Republicans support a universal background check requirement, support allowing courts to prevent some people from buying guns if they are considered dangerous to themselves or others, even if they have not committed crimes.
The poll showed a wide share of Americans say safety in churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship has worsened over the past 20 years with 61% saying religious houses have grown less safe over the last two decades.
Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe elementary and high schools have become less safe than they used to be with 57% saying the same about colleges and universities.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
BACKGROUND CHECK LEGISLATION
Given all the mass shootings across the country and the general public’s demand for stricter gun control laws, it is very disappointing that so many elected County Sheriffs objected to the background check measures.
Governor Lujan Grisham at the time of signing the background check measure said:
“Even the sheriffs who [opposed the legislation] … are men and women who dedicate their lives to law enforcement, they [need to] follow the law. They will enforce this law, they will do their job and duty”.
What would be tragic is if the elected Sheriff’s just ignore the law making background checks mandatory and make absolutely no effort to enforce it and not set up policies and procedures to enforce it.
Elected Sheriff’s cannot pick and choose the laws they like but have an ethical obligation to honor their oaths of office and enforce the criminal laws as enacted by the New Mexico legislature as best they can in good faith.
The legislation requiring back ground checks on private sales of guns and at gun shows sends a very strong message that the New Mexico gun culture needs to accept a level of responsibility to ensure that they know who they are selling guns to and make sure their weapon is not placed in the wrong hands.
The 28 counties and municipalities in the state that have passed “gun sanctuary resolutions” in defiance to the legislative gun control measures are engaging in “feel good” legislation to merely make a political statement, with such legislation in all likelihood exceeding their authority that would probably set aside by the courts if ever challenged.
Such court challenges to the “gun sanctuary resolutions” could and should be mounted by the the elected District Attorneys or appointed county attorneys for the courts to pronounce the legislation null and void.
The opposing counties and municipalities would better serve their residents and constituencies if they were to promulgate and implement policy measures and provide funding to help the Sheriff’s and Police enforce the law regarding background checks and perhaps fund such services free of charge for their constituents.
REQUIRING DOMESTIC ABUSERS TO SURRENDER FIREARMS
Statics in Albuquerque show that after about the 10th or 11th time there is a call out of the Albuquerque Police Department to a home for domestic violence, it is usually to pick a woman up in a body bag.
Albuquerque’s dirty little secret is that domestic violence is the number-one reason why a woman is admitted to the emergency room of the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Given New Mexico’s ranking as the 10th-highest rate of women killed by men, this legislation is long overdue and will save lives.
Senate Bill 328 is an excellent example of responsible gun regulation that even Second Amendment advocates should not hesitate to support, but no, the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Advocates will say “people kill people” and not the guns they have a right to buy and carry.
No doubt the NRA will argue that fewer woman would be killed in New Mexico if only more woman wore sidearms to protect themselves from domestic violence inflicted upon them by their spouses, partners, or their children’s other parent.
New Mexico spends little on treatment programs for domestic violence offenders and this needs to change and such programs funded by the legislature.
Democratic Senators Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez of Albuquerque and Democratic Representative Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque are commended for sponsoring and getting enacted one of the most meaningful bills passed during the 2019 session.