ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lawmakers are working to prevent another tragedy like the one at Washington Middle School on August 13, 2021. Juan Saucedo Jr. is accused of shooting and killing Bennie Hargrove with a gun he brought from home.
Under a proposed bill, adults including parents will bear more responsibility in keeping guns out of the wrong hands. The Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety bill will hold parents like Juan Saucedo Sr. responsible for their child using a gun if the parent didn’t secure it.
“You will now know that once this act is passed that if you don’t store your guns safely and that there are minors in your home or you know that minors visit your home on a regular basis there are going to be penalties,” said State Representative, Pamelya Herndon (D-District 28) who is sponsoring the bill and represents Bernalillo County.
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This bill would ensure gun owners must secure their guns so children or anyone who shouldn’t have access to it can’t. The bill would make it a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine if a child even gets a hold of the gun but does not harm anyone.
If the child kills someone, then the adult will be facing a fourth-degree felony. Juan Saucedo Jr. was charged with the shooting of Hargrove. Hargrove’s family says he was trying to help a friend who had been bullied by Saucedo Jr. last August at Washington Middle School.
Lawmakers say laws like this are necessary before something like this happens again.
“You can’t blame the gun for doing what guns do you have to blame you have to blame the owner you have to blame the person who is responsible for keeping and storage of that firearm,” said Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo County).
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez says his office is currently still investigating to see if Juan Saucedo Jr.’s parents could still be charged. However, if this bill becomes law, it makes holding parents responsible much easier. “If this act is passed, then we will have clear criminal penalties associated with individuals’ parents, adults who are responsible for securing that weapon,” Torrez said.
There are 30 states across the country that have child access prevention laws including Texas and Colorado. Lawmakers say it has been difficult to pass laws like this because of the gun ownership in New Mexico and the gun lobbyists fighting against it.
The legislative session begins Tuesday. Crime is a big focus of this session with bills looking to increase sentences and keep criminals behind bars.