SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) — A bill working its way through the Roundhouse is looking to raise the legal age to purchase and own an automatic or semi-automatic gun to 21. Some lawmakers called this move a “gun grab,” while others said it’s common sense.

“I just think this is the right thing to do to try and get control of the proliferation of guns. Young people under the age of 21 don’t need to be able to purchase high-capacity, semiautomatic weapons,” said Senator Bill Soules, (D) Las Cruces, “I think it’s a good thing that we do that. We require people to be 21 in order to purchase alcohol or consume it; in order to purchase cannabis and consume it and in many other areas. Part of the reasons for that is that people’s brains are still developing.”

Senate Bill 116 not only raises the legal age for possession or purchase of an automatic or semi-automatic gun to 21, it makes anyone found in violation of it guilty of a misdemeanor. However, it also has exemptions including young people who have attended a hunter or firearm safety course, if they’re doing target shooting at an established range or as part of an organized competition, or engaging in legal hunting and trapping activities.

Republican Senator Crystal Diamond of Elephant Butte said this bill is out of touch with rural New Mexico: “This bill would make outlaws of so many of our youth hunters, of our young sportsmen who are involved in shooting sports programs, 4H programs. It’s, once again, just an example of how out-of-touch some of our urban lawmakers are with rural New Mexico.”

Diamond said this is an example of just one of the divides in the legislature: “I do not see this as a partisan issue. I think this is a rural vs urban issue, and that you will see people vote along these lines to protect the freedoms and the values it looks like, and it appears that maybe have a higher value in rural New Mexico.”


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Democrat Senator Carrie Hamblen, of Las Cruces, saids this bill is an effort to make the legal gun-buying age in New Mexico uniform.

“This isn’t meant to try and put any particular group in a disadvantage than any other group. Really what is happening is that our state’s laws when they were formed in terms of the age to buy a weapon were not consistent in the first place. We’re just trying to make that even across the board,” Hamblen says.

Hamblen did say she hopes this bill does help curb gun violence amongst people under 21.