Community against violence column

New Mexico Legislature takes on issues of gun possession

By Malinda Williams
For The Taos News
Posted 3/7/19

In many state legislatures across the country, the issues of firearms control are making headlines because legislators are taking them more seriously than ever before. Much of this can be attributed …

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Community against violence column

New Mexico Legislature takes on issues of gun possession

Posted

In many state legislatures across the country, the issues of firearms control are making headlines because legislators are taking them more seriously than ever before. Much of this can be attributed to the increase in Democratic majorities at national, state and local levels – and because of persistent pressures from citizens and organizations, regardless of political affiliation.

Sadly, however, the issue also keeps making headlines for the wrong reasons: mass shootings, random attacks with guns and nonstop violence with firearms against families and domestic partners.

On the positive side, we are heartened that the legislators of New Mexico are seriously addressing gun violence. In this year’s session, several bills have moved closer to law to put a check on the use of firearms during the commission of crimes, especially in domestic violence situations.

According to gun control advocates at Everytown.org, background checks save lives. They are the foundation of any effective effort to reduce gun violence and are associated with lower rates of murders using guns, suicides and gun trafficking in states requiring them for all handgun sales.

Here’s a shocking statistic: More than half of the women killed with guns in the United States are murdered by their partners. Fortunately, in states requiring comprehensive background checks, 47 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.

House Bill 8: Background Check for Firearm Sales

HB 8 prohibits the sale of a firearm without conducting a federal instant background check if the sale is made for a fee or other consideration. The bill excludes the sale of a firearm by a person who holds a valid federal firearms license; to a law enforcement agency; or between two law enforcement officers authorized to carry a firearm.

HB 8 passed the House by 41-25, and an amended version was approved by the Sentae Monday night (March 4). CAV strongly supports the passage of this bill and urges all Taoseños to call their senators to ask them to vote for the bill.

HB 87: Domestic Violence and Firearm Possession

HB 87 imposes penalties for firearm possession on persons subject to protection orders or convicted of domestic violence, battery or criminal damage to the property of a household member, stalking and other related crimes. It also requires relinquishment of firearms by those persons subject to an order of protection, particularly after committing domestic violence.

HB 87 has passed the House by 38-37, and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. This bill hits right at the heart of what CAV is all about: ending domestic violence. We strongly ask you to contact your senator to call for passage of this bill.

In many counties in New Mexico, including Taos County, there is some opposition to the latest move to control gun ownership. At a recent Taos County Commission meeting, firearm advocates and Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe asked the commissioners to make the county a “sanctuary county” where any state law appearing to violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will not be enforced.

While we recognize that many people possess firearms legally – and many fear that the stiffening of gun ownership laws may threaten their legal possession – we do not support local authorities making legal decisions that should be decided in the courts. We are in favor of sane, sensible laws allowing firearm possession by law-biding New Mexico citizens but crack down hard on those who present a greater danger to society – including their families and partners.

Malinda Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc., which offers free confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence and stalking; community and school violence prevention programs; counseling; shelter; and transitional housing. To talk with someone or get information on services available, call CAV’s 24-hour crisis line at (575) 758-9888 or visit TaosCAV.org.

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