Adelante Congressional District 2 Caucus Presentation: “NEW MEXICO’S GUN VIOLENCE CRISIS AND SOLUTIONS”

The Adelante Congressional District 2 Caucus is a group of Democratic Party activists who are involved with their communities within Congressional District 2. According to its web site, the values of the Progressive Adelante Progressive Caucus is to promote Democratic Party core values including social, racial, economic, gender, and environmental justice. To advance these values, the Adelante Progressive Caucus works in part to create transparency and accountability in all functions of our state and national party and to reach out to historically underrepresented communities across the state to include their voices in the democratic process.


Pete Dinelli was invited to speak before the Adelante Congressional District 2 Caucus in Socorro, New Mexico on Jun 24.  The topic of the presentation was “NEW MEXICO’S GUN VIOLENCE CRISIS AND SOLUTIONS”. Following is the prepared presentation with research links added for publication on  The presentation has also been updated to include additional research with links.


On May 15, nine people were injured or killed by an 18-year-old male armed with an AR-17 style rifle in a mass shooting in Farmington, New Mexico. Three woman over the age of 70 were killed. The 3 fatal shooting victims were identified as 79-year-old Shirley Voita, 73-year-old Melody Ivie, and 97-year-old Gwendolyn Schofield. Schofield and Ivie were mother and daughter. Two police officers were also injured.

The Suspect was identified as 18-year-old Beau Wilson who was shot and killed by police. Wilson was a student at Farmington High School.  Wilson  used  an AR-style rifle and used a 9mm handgun and a .22 caliber firearm belonging  to a family member.

When 18-year-old Wilson stepped out of his father’s house police say he was wearing a bulletproof vest and he had a note in his pocket. The note in Wilson’s pocket was scrawled in green ink and said “If you’re reading this I’m the end of the chapter. … lay eyes or dear put a finger on my little sister.  I promise there will be regrets.”

Police say Wilson fired 141 rounds from his house on North Dustin with the assault-style rifle  before dropping the weapon in nearby bushes, taking off the vest and walking down the street continuing to fire one handgun and then a second.   Wilson fired on at least 6 houses and 3 cars in a “rampage” in a   quiet middle-class neighborhood lined with houses and churches in the heart of Farmington involving up to a quarter of a mile length of the neighborhood street.


One thing for certain is what happened in Farmington on a quiet, middle-class neighborhood lined with houses and churches, can happen in any community, large or small, in New Mexico. Farmington is clear proof it’s a tragedy that no one can presume will only happen in the larger cities of the state such as Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Sant Fe.  It’s a tragedy that could easily happen in Clovis, Portales, Hobbs, Espanola, Taos or Raton.


On May 17, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, in response to the Farmington mass shooting, said she would again pursue an assault weapon ban and age restrictions for purchasing firearms.   Both proposals were introduced during the 2023 NM legislative session but failed to reach her desk in this year’s 60-day legislative session.  The Governor said this:

 A ban on assault weapons … doesn’t have universal support in many states, including this one. I am putting it on the table. … I want to be able to go to Farmington and say this will never happen again. I don’t know of a tool that prevents all tragedies. … If there was one thing that would cure it, it would already be done. …  I would call a special session … if we could pass something that could be implemented in a timely manner.”


Discussion of gun violence must begin with the astonishing proliferation of guns in the United States. In 2023, it is estimated we now exceed 400 million guns.  There are 53,267-gun shops and only 15,876 Macdonald’s in the U.S.

About 81 million Americans, or 31% of all adults, own an average of 5 guns each.

Americans own nearly half (46%) of all civilian-owned guns worldwide, and we own more per capita  than any other country on earth.


The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is an independent data collection and research group with no affiliation with any advocacy organization. Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United State.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a MASS SHOOTING as four or more people, excluding the shooter, being shot.

Over a 35-year period, during the five administrations between Presidents Ronald Regan and Barack Obama (1981-2016), there was an average of 44 mass shooting victims per year with 22 deaths and 22 injuries. During the first three years of Donald Trump’s administration (2017-2019) the United States witnessed a nearly 900% increase in total deaths and injuries in mass shootings, per year, to 377 annually (108 deaths and 269 injuries).

The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) reported that there were over 5,000 more fatal shootings during Joe Biden’s first year in office compared to Donald Trump’s first year as president.  According to the Gun Violence Archive, the United States saw 44,868-gun deaths in Biden’s first year as president. The total number of murders, justifiable self-defense homicides, and accidental homicides involving firearms were 20,783 in 2021, compared to 15,727 in 2017 when Trump took office.  This means that in the past few years alone, gun violence has increased by 32%.

As of May 21, 2023, the year has seen more mass killings to date than any other year since data collection started in 2006.

According to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, 2023 is on pace to become the deadliest year for mass shootings in recent history.  As of July 4, the U.S. has reported 346  mass shootings. This is the earliest in any year the  gruesome milestone has been reached since the Gun Violence Archive  began tracking them in 2014.  The statistics works out to nearly 1  mass murder per week in the first half of 2023.


After reviewing the proliferation of guns in the United States, the number of  HOMICIDES, the number of SUICIDES the number of GUN VIOLENCE DEATHS, and the number of MASS SHOOTINGS involving guns is in order to fully understand the crisis:

According to the “Gun Violence Archive” the number of HOMICIDES over the last 4 years were as follows:

  • 2019: 15,516
  • 2020: 19,580
  • 2021: 21,020
  • 2022: 20,272

The number of SUICIDES over the last 4 years were as follows:

  • 2019: 24,090
  • 2020: 24,156
  • 2021: 24,090
  • 2022: 24,090

The number of GUN VIOLENCE DEATHS over the last 9 years were as follows:

  • 2014: 12,354 deaths
  • 2015: 13,577 deaths
  • 2016: 15,148 deaths
  • 2017: 15,750 deaths
  • 2018: 14,941 deaths
  • 2019: 39,606 deaths
  • 2020: 43,736 deaths
  • 2021: 45,110 deaths
  • 2022: 44,362 deaths

The number of MASS SHOOTINGS over the last 9 years were as follows:

  • 2014: 272 mass shootings
  • 2015: 336 mass shootings
  • 2016: 383 mass shootings
  • 2017: 348 mass shootings
  • 2018: 336 mass shootings
  • 2019: 415 mass shootings
  • 2020: 610 mass shootings
  • 2021: 690 mass shooting
  • 2022: 646 mass shootings
  • 2023: 346  Mass Shootings (January 9, to July 4, 2023)

As of  June 23, 2023 the total number of gun violence deaths stood at 20,416, homicides stood at  8,932, suicides stood at 11,484.  As of July 4, 2023, the total number of  MASS SHOOTING stood at 346.


What cannot be ignored as a likely  contributing cause in the increase in gun violence is the CORONA VIRUS 19 pandemic and its cumulative effect on the country’s mental health.  The CORONA VIRUS 19 pandemic lead to extensive confinement or quarantine, loss of employment and stress leading to substance abuse or increased alcohol consumption.

It was on January 19, 2019, that the United States Secretary Alex Salazar of the Department of Health and Human Services declared the corona virus outbreak a national emergency. It was on March 11, 2020 that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the state into lockdown.  Note that it was in 2019 that homicides began to spike dramatically over 4 years, gun violence deaths more than doubled over 4 years and mass shooting began to spike over 3 years.


Clinical factors that have an increased risk of violence and that  are also predictors of violence are younger age, male sex, lower income and substance abuse.  Contextual factors include major life changes such as divorce, unemployment, or victimization. Expressions of hate, rage and threatening behavior are not mental illnesses but are predictors of violence.,divorce%2C%20unemployment%2C%20or%20victimization.

The predicators of violence ostensibly are indeed at play in Albuquerque.  On June 26,  a shooting at a busy movie theater left a man dead happened during an argument over seats. On June 16,  a man shot two people randomly in the parking lot of a popular restaurant, on July 10,  a woman shot another woman whose car she was trying to steal in a busy mall parking lot.

Dr. Kristina Sowar, the Attending Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the University of New Mexico Children’s Psychiatric Center, said understanding the psychology behind actions like those is an important topic.  She said many people have been feeling more stressed in the last few years  since the COVID pandemic  and that can be one cause of this behavior. Sowar this:

“We do see many people who are struggling more with irritability, impulse regulation, and sometimes the aggressive behavior that comes about with that. …  As can things like having another mental health condition, so having depression, having anxiety, having had a head injury, having a substance use history. ”

Dr. Sowar said short fuses can show that people need improvement in conflict resolution:

“Especially if people aren’t raised in environments where that’s encouraged, it can be an area of deficit for them that they just don’t learn and it continues to persist as a challenge when they get older.” 

She said experiencing trauma as a kid can lead to more of these problems as an adult. She noted that trauma is more common in New Mexico. Dr. Sowar said there can be a lack of value in human life and people feel like they don’t have a connection to others.

Dr. Sowar said teenagers are seeing an increase in mental health issues across the country in the last few years. The covid pandemic was particularly tough. Some of the recent violence in Albuquerque has been among teenagers. On July 13, two teens got into a struggle over a gun. A 15-year-old boy was shot and a 13-year-old boy was stabbed.

“The rates of depression and PTSD and anxiety in a lot of teenagers, the kind of things they’ve been exposed to, things that maybe have been normalized for them that weren’t normalized before.  …  Some of the cumulative stress, trauma loads on the population, and the mix of teenagers plus weapons, unfortunately, being a tough combo.”


American voters have already said “enough is enough” when it comes to gun violence and they are demanding responsible gun control by congress and state legislatures but both fail to act. The Second Amendment is always cited by gun advocates.

A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll was conducted in August 2019 after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor Congress banning assault weapons, expanding background checks for firearm sales, passing “red flag” laws and instituting a voluntary buyback program.

According to the poll, overall, the public remains divided over the government’s role in gun control, despite widespread support for those specific measures. 50% of Americans say they’re more concerned that the government won’t go far enough to regulate access to firearms, while 45% are more concerned gun control laws will be too restrictive. Only 46% of the 834 registered voters surveyed have a gun in their household.

Highlights of the poll are:

62% favor banning the sale of selected semi-automatic firearms referred to as assault weapons.
89% say they favor Congress expanding background checks to all firearm sales and transfers.
76% back “red flag” laws that help law enforcement temporarily remove guns from those deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others.
75% support a voluntary program where the government would buy back firearms that people no longer want.
25% support banning the sale of handguns.


New Mexico’s firearm ownership and fatality rate is also among the nation’s highest. In 2016 over 37% of adults in the state lived in a household with a firearm which is 5% higher than the national average according to the think tank Rand Corp.

In 2020, New Mexico had the nation’s second-highest violent crime rate.


New Mexico’s firearm fatality rate is among the nation’s highest. According to the New Mexico Department of Health, there were a total of 562 state residents who died in 2021 due to firearm-related injuries.

This figure is up significantly from the 481 firearm-related deaths in 2020. Of the 562 state residents who died in 2021 due to firearms, 319 cases, were classified as suicides and 243 were classified as homicides.

In 2021 New Mexico law enforcement reported over 28,000 crimes against persons. That includes crimes such as murder, rape, assault, and kidnapping. In 2021,  FBI data showed for every 100,000 people in New Mexico, law enforcement reported 2,189 crimes against persons. The only state with a higher rate was Arkansas, which reported 2,276 crimes per 100,000 people.

In 2021 New Mexico law enforcement agencies reported nearly 25,500 instances of assault . That’s 1,872 more than the state reported in 2020. New Mexico law enforcement also reported more homicides in 2021 than the year before.

In 2021 across New Mexico, police reported 193 homicides to the FBI.  That’s 67 more than in 2020.  Not at all surprising is that the majority of the state’s reported homicides were in Albuquerque.

In 2021, New Mexico law enforcement reported to the FBI 822 kidnappings and abductions to the FBI. That put New Mexico at the top of the list regarding kidnappings and abductions per 100,000 people. Kansas, Colorado, and Utah also rank high on the list of kidnappings and abductions per population.


“Safe Wise”  is a national  private company that reviews, rates  and promotes private home security systems and  products. It conducts national surveys on crime statistics and trends and publishes a newsletter on it findings.,they’re%20worth%20your%20time.

On March 13, 2023, Safe Wise published a “State of Safety Report” for New Mexico.  Following are edited noteable excerpts from the report:

“New Mexico continues to have higher-than-average crime rates across the board.  … [T]he good news is that both property and violent crime rates are declining year over year. Violent crime fell from 8.2 incidents per 1,000 people to 7.8  but that still gives New Mexico the second-highest violent crime rate in the US, behind Alaska with 8.4 incidents per 1,000.

Property crime fell from 31.8 incidents per 1,000 people to 28.4. New Mexico is one of just a dozen states to see declines in both violent and property crime, but fewer cities reporting crime data to the FBI may also be a factor.”


“New Mexicans have the 8th highest level of concern about violent crime in the nation with 58% of our State of Survey respondents indicating they worry about it on a daily basis. Concern about gun violence is just a tad lower with 57% of the population reporting daily concern.

  • 31% of people in New Mexico reported feeling safe in their state compared to 50% of Americans. Only the residents of Illinois and New York feel less safe in their states.
  • 15% of New Mexicans reported having a personal experience with violent crime in the 12 months prior to our survey, which matches the national average but represents an increase of 200% year over year for New Mexico.
  • 42% of survey participants report using some form of personal protection— above the US average of 39%. Pepper spray was the most popular personal safety device carried.
  • 48% of New Mexicans say their personal safety has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 44% of Americans.”


  • “57% of New Mexico respondents named gun violence as a top safety concern—well above the US average of 47%.
  • 16% of residents reported experiencing gun violence in the 12 months prior to the survey, up from 5% in our previous report.
  • Mass shooting incidents increased 300% in New Mexico during the 2023 reporting year, rising from 1 to 4.
  • Firearms are the third-most common method used for both personal safety and property protection in New Mexico.”


“New Mexicans’ personal experiences with property crime increased year over year to 39%, which is the second-highest percentage in the nation. With that said, 41% of New Mexicans said they increased their security or safety measures in the 12 months prior to the survey, and people in New Mexico were more likely to use all types of property protection compared to the average American.

  • Property crime experiences increased by 105% year-over-year in New Mexico.
  • 39% of New Mexicans experienced package theft in the 12 months prior to our survey, which is the eighth-highest rate in the nation and represents an increase of 70% year over year.
  • 46% of survey respondents said they use security camerasGuard dogs were the second-most popular option for protecting property in New Mexico (38%). 
  • Doorbell cameras are the most popular form of package theft protection among New Mexico residents.”

 The link to review the full unedited Safe Wise report is here:


Albuquerque is at the forefront of New Mexico’s high violent crime rate.  According to legislative data released, the city had about half of the state’s violent crime in 2022 but has just 25% or so of its total population.

The Albuquerque Police Department reported that in November, 2022 gun law violations spiked 85%. The last two years have also been two very violent years for Albuquerque.  The number of homicides in the city have broken all-time records.   In 2021, there were 117 homicides, with 3 declared self-defense reducing homicide number to 114.  In 2022, there were 120 homicides, a historical high.

On Thursday, March 16, 2023 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the 2022 crime statistics along with crime statistics for 2022 for a comparison. During his March 16 press conference announcing the City’s 2022 crime statistics, APD Chief Harold Medina embellished that a  3% drop in  overall total of crime and a 4% decrease in Crimes Against Persons and the 2% decrease in Crimes Against Property was positive movement.  The slight 3% decrease in overall crime was over shadowed by the 24% spike in CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY which are largely made up of drug and gun offenses and a 71% increase in murders over the last 6 years.

Chief Medina revealed that over the last 6 years, Albuquerque has had a dramatic 71% spike in homicides.  The number of homicides reported over the last 6 years is as follows:

  • 2017: 70 homicides
  • 2018: 69 homicides
  • 2019: 80 homicides
  • 2020: 78 homicides
  • 2021: 110 homicides
  • 2022: 120 homicides

On March 16, in addition to reporting that there has been a 71% spike in homicides, APD officials reported that over the past 6 years there has been a 28% increase in Aggravated Assaults which by definition includes the use of a firearms. Following are the Aggravated Assaults numbers:

  • 2017: 4,213
  • 2018: 5,156
  • 2019: 5,337
  • 2020: 5,592
  • 2021: 5,669
  • 2022: 5,399

Crime rates in Albuquerque are high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021.  These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities.


On April 26, the Major Cities Chiefs Association released its Violent Crime Survey and national totals for the crimes of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. According to the report, Albuquerque is ranked 17th among 70 of the largest cities in the nation looking at trends in the 4 categories. The single most troubling statistic is Albuquerque’s increase in homicides.

The Major Cities Chiefs Association report shows in 2022, there was a 5% drop in homicides nationwide. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Albuquerque had one of the worst homicide rates in the nation and is one of 27 cities across the nation that saw an increase in homicides.

Click to access MCCA-Violent-Crime-Report-2022-and-2021-Midyear.pdf


Consistently there are 5 major solutions that are offered to reduce gun violence.  Those 5 solutions are:


Simply put and based on history, assault weapon bans can work. Federal restrictions enacted in 1934 on the ownership of fully automatic weapons (machine guns) were successful based on the rarity with which such guns were used in crime after enactment.  Washington, D.C.’s restrictive handgun licensing system, which went into effect in 1976, produced a drop in gun fatalities that lasted for several years after its enactment.

It was on September 13, 1994, Title XI of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, known as the Crime Control Act of 1994, took effect.  The act banned the manufacture, transfer, and possession of certain semiautomatic firearms designated as assault weapons and “large capacity” ammunition magazines.

“Gun massacres of six or more killed decreased by 37% for the decade the ban [on assault weapons] was active [1994-2004], then shot up 183 percent during the decade following its expiration.” 

Click to access 173405.pdf


Studies have found that if a certain number of days are required between the purchase of a gun and when the buyer can take possession of that gun, referred to as a “cooling off period”, can lead to fewer firearm suicides. “In a study of statewide suicide rate changes between 2013 and 2014, states with waiting periods saw a decrease in suicide rates, while those without waiting period laws had an increase.”

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in a 2017 study, found  Waiting period laws that delay the purchase of firearms by a few days reduce gun homicides by roughly 17%. Our results imply that the 17 states (including the District of Columbia) with waiting periods avoid roughly 750 gun homicides per year as a result of this policy. Expanding the waiting period policy to all other US states would prevent an additional 910 gun homicides per year without imposing any restrictions on who can own a gun.”


More than 5 in 6 Americans (84%), including over three-fourths of Republicans, support a law requiring a background check on all firearm purchases.

Legislation  for background checks varies from state to state. In a 25-year study (1991-2016), the following was reported:

“State gun laws requiring universal background checks for all gun sales resulted in homicide rates 15% lower than states without such laws. Laws prohibiting the possession of firearms by people who have been convicted of a violent crime were associated with an 18 percent reduction in homicide rates….None of the state gun laws studied were found to be related to overall suicide rates.” The study concluded, “controlling who has access to guns has much more impact on reducing gun-related homicides than controlling what guns people have.”

“Researchers found that a 1995 Connecticut law requiring gun buyers to get permits (which themselves required background checks) was associated with a 40% decline in gun homicides and a 15%  drop in suicides. Similarly, when researchers studied Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase law, they found an associated increase in gun homicides by 23 percent, as well as a 16-percent increase in suicides.”


 Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), also known as “Red Flag” laws, were first adopted in Connecticut in 2005. They are now in 19 states and Washington D.C. They allow loved ones and law enforcement to intervene when a family member is in crisis and considering harm to themselves or others. They can petition the court for an order to temporarily prevent someone from accessing guns.

In 2021 New Mexico adopted a red flag law, but it has been implemented only 9 times by  resistant law enforcement officers during the first two years after the law’s passage. Any law without law enforcement can never prove its effectiveness. New Mexico Sherriff’s were universally opposed to New Mexico’s Red Flag  arguing it violates the second amendment right to bear arms so much so that they condemned Governor Lujan Grisham and opposed her  re election in 2022. Simply put, elected County Sherriff’s, because of personal beliefs,  who are not willing nor capable of enforcing New Mexico laws  designed to intervene and prevent violence of a person in crisis deemed a threat to the public or themselves, they need to resign.  Red flag laws can play a role in preventing mass shootings, as a 2019 study revealed “the subjects in 21 of the 159 court orders that were analyzed showed clear signs that they intended to commit a mass shooting.”


Safe gun storage legislation does help reduce gun violence. Presently, there are only 14 states that have laws concerning either gun storage or firearm locking devices with New Mexico  becoming  the 14th state in 2023.

“A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that states requiring gun locks experienced a 68% lower suicide rate compared with states that had no similar requirement….A 2020 meta-analysis of 18 different gun policies by the RAND Corporation found that CAP [Child Access Prevention] laws have reduced both firearm suicides and accidental shootings among young people. The RAND team concluded that CAP laws were the most effective out of 18 categories of laws it examined.”  In a survey interviewing over a thousand adults, nearly 8 in Americans 10 (nearly 70% of Republicans, nearly 80% of Democrats and Independents) support mandating that guns are stored with a lock in place.


When the 2023 New Mexico 60 day legislative session began on January 17, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in her “State of the State” address announced her support of the following 4 gun control measures:

  • Banning the sale of AR-15-style rifles.
  • Allowing crime victims to sue gun manufacturers.
  • Making it a crime to fail to properly secure a firearm that’s accessible to an unsupervised minor.
  • Closing a loophole in state law to allow prosecution when a person buys a gun for a someone who isn’t legally able to make the purchase themselves, a transaction known as a straw purchase.

Only 2 of the 4 measure’s the Governor endorsed were enacted by the legislature. The 2 measures enacted and signed into law were:

House Bill 9.   This bill is referred to as the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act also known as “Bennies Bill” and makes it a misdemeanor to negligently allow a child access to a firearm and would make it a felony if that negligence resulted in someone dying or suffering great bodily harm.

House Bill 306. This bill is directed at “straw purchases” of firearms and making it illegal to buy a firearm on behalf of someone who’s not allowed to have it or intends to use in a crime.


During the 2023 legislative session, there were 10 major gun-control measure bills introduced and seriously considered in the New Mexico House or Senate.  Eight of those bills were:

House Bill 50 would have prohibited magazines with more than 10 rounds.

House Bill 72 would have prohibited the possession of semiautomatic firearm converter that allows the weapon to fire more rapidly.

House Bill 100 would have established a 14-day waiting period for the purchase of any firearm and requires a prospective seller who doesn’t already hold a valid federal firearms license to arrange for someone who does to conduct a federal background check prior to selling a firearm.

House Bill 101  would have made it a fourth-degree felony to purchase, possess, manufacture, import, sell or transfer assault weapons in the state.  It would restrict the sale, manufacture and possession of AR-15-style rifles along with semiautomatic firearms.

Senate Bill 44 would have made it a misdemeanor to carry a firearm within 100 feet of a polling location on election day or during early voting. On-duty law enforcement officers and security personnel would be exempt.

Senate Bill 116 would have established a minimum age of 21 for anyone seeking to purchase or possess an automatic firearm, semiautomatic firearm or firearm capable of accepting a large-capacity magazine. The bill would have effectively raised the minimum age for buying an AR-15-style rifle from 18 to 21.

Senate Bill 171 sought to ban the manufacture, sale, trade, gift, transfer or acquisition of semiautomatic pistols that have two or more defined characteristics.

Senate Bill 428 would have revised the state’s Unfair Practices Act to target the sale of illegal firearms and parts, allowing the filing of lawsuits to enforce the act.

Bills that did not pass include bail reform and changes to pretrial detention, both priorities of Democrat Governor Lujan Grisham and the Republican Party, and both opposed by Democrats in both chambers.


On Saturday March 18 during a news conference immediately after the  2023 session ended, Governor Lujan Grisham told reports that a special session was not needed this year on gun control. The Governor said this:

“I think the public is going to ask me and these Legislatures know, so they’re not surprised by that.  I’ll be asked to look into a public safety special session, and we usually find ourselves it’s an imperfect world where we didn’t anticipate. So the special sessions we have called have been unforeseen and dramatic circumstances.”


There are two major issues that are sure to divide Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico. The first issue where there is never a meeting of the minds is on “crime and punishment”.  The second issue is gun control.

Republicans always advocate for increased sentencings as a solution to all types of  crimes with the attitude of “lock em up and throw away the key”. It is nothing more than the warehousing of defendants for all sorts of crime  that is very costly and a drain on resources that could be better used elsewhere.   Democrats oppose increased and enhanced sentencings believing that the only way to reduce crime and gun violence  is to solve the underlying causes of crime and gun violence such as  lack of  education, poverty, drug addiction and mental illness and that rehabilitation of any defendant  is possible.

The second issue is “gun control measure’s” that Democrats advocate  for and Republicans universally oppose always citing Second Amendment embodiment of right to bear arms. Republicans essentially adopt the the position of the National Rifle Association that any and all gun control measures and the outlawing the manufacturing and sale of any type of firearm violates the Second Amendment. Republicans always  proclaim that gun control measures translate into only criminals will have guns. Democrats essentially argue that  there is a need for reasonable and responsible gun control to bring down the proliferation of guns and to reduce gun violence.

Democrats and Republicans fail to recognize that both issues overlap with each other and  can be combined as a solution to address gun violence. There must be a zero tolerance of violent crimes committed with firearms, especially involving drug trafficking.  There must be a reduction in the proliferation and the availability of guns used to commit crime and mass shootings that can be addressed with gun control.


The current makeup of the New Mexico legislature is 45 Democrats and 25 Republicans in the House with 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the Senate.  What is very discouraging is the fact that the New Mexico legislature is decidedly in control by Democrats, yet very little to no progress is every made when it comes to gun control measures as Republicans out maneuver Democrats by relying on Democrats who also oppose gun control.

If Governor Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico legislature are indeed sincere about the State’s crime crisis both should seek the enactment of an “Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing Act.”


The message that must be sent  out  loud and clear to violent criminals by our elected officials is that New Mexico has a zero tolerance of violent crimes committed with firearms and the only way to do that is with with enhanced sentencings.

The following crime and sentencing provisions should be included in the “Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing  Act”:

Allow firearm offenses used in a drug crime to be charged separately with enhance sentences.

Making possession of a handgun by someone who commits a crime of drug trafficking an aggravated third-degree felony mandating a 10-year minimum sentence.

Increase the firearm enhancement penalties provided for the brandishing a firearm in the commission of a felony from 3 years to 10 years for a first offense and for a second or subsequent felony in which a firearm is brandished 12 years.

Create a new category of enhanced sentencing for use of a lethal weapon or deadly weapon other than a firearm where there is blandishment of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony with enhanced sentences of 5 years for a first offense and for second or subsequent felony in which a lethal weapon other than a firearm is brandished 8 years

Increase the penalty of shooting randomly into a crowded area a second-degree felony mandating a 9-year sentence.

Change bail bond to statutorily empower judges with far more discretionary authority to hold and jail those pending trial who have prior violent crime reported incidents without shifting the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense.


Gun control measures that should be included the “Omnibus Gun Control And  Violent Crime Sentencing  Act” would include all 8 bills that failed in the 2023 legislative session and other measures and  would include the following:

Call for the repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby, but what is the real rational for allowing side arms and rifles to be carried down the street other than to intimidate others.

Restrict the sale, manufacture and possession of AR-15-style rifles along with semiautomatic firearms and make it a fourth-degree felony to purchase, possess, manufacture, import, sell or transfer assault weapons in the state.

Prohibited magazines with more than 10 rounds.

Prohibited the possession of semiautomatic firearm converter that allows the weapon to fire more rapidly.

Established a 14-day waiting period for the purchase of any firearm and requires a prospective seller who doesn’t already hold a valid federal firearms license to arrange for someone who does to conduct a federal background check prior to selling a firearm.

Established a minimum age of 21 for anyone seeking to purchase or possess an automatic firearm, semiautomatic firearm or firearm capable of accepting a large-capacity magazine.

Ban the manufacture, sale, trade, gift, transfer or acquisition of semiautomatic pistols that have two or more defined characteristics.

Revised the state’s Unfair Practices Act to target the sale of illegal firearms and parts, allowing the filing of lawsuits to enforce the act.

Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.

Require in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.

Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.

The Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing  Act Omnibus Gun Violence And Sentencing  Act  must include funding for the criminal justice system. This would include funding District Attorney’s Offices, the Public Defender’s Office, the Courts and the Corrections Department and law enforcement departments across New Mexico.


Until the Governor and the New Mexico legislature gets serious about New Mexico’s gun violence crisis and enacts reasonable gun control measures in conjunction with crime and punishment measures, we can expect our violent crime rates to continue to increase, and God forbid, yet another mass shooting.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.