ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico officials are pushing to make threats against schools and businesses a felony.
On Wednesday, district attorneys from across New Mexico gathered to announce legislation they say would improve public safety, making it a fourth-degree felony to threaten any public space with mass violence. Currently, these violent threats are only considered a petty misdemeanor.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez also added that the legislation would increase penalties for the use of a firearm in connection with a crime of violence anywhere in New Mexico.
“We don’t believe that the current punishment that goes along with gun violence is commensurate with the harm, with the trauma. Simply put, our gun laws are too weak in this state. The sentences are too weak in this state,” said Torrez.
Current laws state that someone convicted of a gun crime is subject to three years penalty. Under the proposed legislation, anyone who uses a gun to injure another person will be subject to a nine-year penalty.
The last component of the legislation would provide $1 million in training funds for the Department of Public Safety to support first responders and law enforcement who are on the front lines of mass casualty situations.
During the conference, Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb recalled the mass shooting at the Clovis Carver Library in August 2017 that killed two people and injured four others.
“Another thing that happened following this was there were so many threats to schools, local businesses,” said Reeb. “Not only does this bill give us the ability to prosecute and hold accountable people who are making these threats to public buildings, and schools and what-have-you not, but it also penalizes criminals who are using guns illegally to actually carry out these mass shootings.”
District Attorney Torrez also touched on a concern regarding threats made by juveniles, stating that at this time, when someone under age makes a threat and it is classified as a petty misdemeanor instead of a felony, the case is dealt with in the judicial system without prosecutors necessarily being involved or notified.
In making the crime a felony, juveniles will be referred to children’s court where prosecutors and additional resources can be utilized to inform the public, as well as deal with these types of situations when they occur.