It was the story at the Roundhouse on Thursday: gun control.
Democrats have proposed a slate of bills; the focus Thursday was on background checks for private gun sales. The line to weigh in on it was practically out the door.
There was a lot of emotion Thursday. People on both sides of the fight flooded the Roundhouse hallways preparing to vent their concerns.
“I oppose this bill. The reason for opposition is because it doesn’t accomplish its goal. The goal is to reduce crime and evidence has proven this bill will not accomplish that,” one public commenter said.
“Since the federal background check system was put in place in ’94 it has blocked more than 30,000 prohibited gun sales at licensed dealers here in New Mexico. Those sales block purchases by felons, fugitives and domestic abusers,” another commenter said.
Thursday was the first day lawmakers are hearing new bills to tighten gun control. The line to speak was so long, they had to move the committee meeting to the House floor.
A handful of New Mexico sheriffs also spoke in opposition to background checks on private gun sales.
House Democrats in favor of the bills say this is about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, but House Republicans say these bills are violating people’s rights.
“That’s what we want to prevent. There is a balance here between the second amendment and trying to save lives, that’s what we’re doing,” said Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales.
“In my opinion, I think every one of them treads on our second amendment right which is provided in the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Candy Ezzell, R-Roswell.
Buying or selling a gun privately without a background check would be a misdemeanor under House Bill 8.
The bill doesn’t spell out how people would go about getting that federal instant background check. It also doesn’t elaborate on how the state would proceed when a buyer and seller break the law.
There are several bills in both the House and Senate that call for more gun control, like background checks at gun shows and private sales, taking away guns from people who have committed domestic violence, and stricter rules on transferring guns.
Thursday’s bill is the first gun bill to be heard this session.
HB 8 did pass, 3-2 vote. It will now move onto another committee.