*Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – There are only ten days left in the state legislative session. As we close in on the last-minute scramble to pass bills for this year’s session, we take a look at one of the major themes that lawmakers have focused on: guns.
Right now, there are around 20 pieces of legislation looking at how our state should handle guns. These include bills banning large-capacity magazines along with semi-automatic and assault weapons, which have yet to reach a floor vote.
Early last month, Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman commented on one piece of legislation, saying, “you don’t need these huge magazines to hunt with, you don’t need these huge magazines to defend your home. The only time you need these huge magazines quite frankly to defend your home is if there is a swat team perhaps outside.”
There is also a push to increase waiting periods for gun purchases and to ban straw gun buys. Some of the bills relate to who can have guns, like Senate Bill 116, which proposes to raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21. There are also bills to create software to detect when guns are on school campuses and to stipulate when guns can be concealed and carried into restaurants.
The discussions in the committee on these bills have been tense with strong opinions on both sides. “The New Mexico State Constitution states: the right to bear arms shall not be infringed upon, and legislation like this is a declaration of war against law-abiding, god-fearing, gun-wielding Americans,” one person in opposition to gun restrictions said. Another bill sponsored by Republican Representative John Block looks to actually expand gun rights by allowing the permitless carry of guns by adults 18 and older.
House Bill 9, or Bennie’s Bill, which deals with unlawful access to a firearm by a minor has made it all the way through the Legislature. Now, it’s headed to the Governor’s desk. She has until April 7 to make a decision on it.
The bill dealing with the waiting period for gun sales is on the House Floor, and the Senate Bill prohibiting firearms at polling places has made its way from the Senate to House Committees. The rest of the bills are still working their way through committees.