SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Senate approved a new gun bill Wednesday that could affect future elections. Passing on a 28-to-9 vote, the legislation would make it illegal to carry a firearm near a polling place.
Sponsored by Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and Reena Szczepanski (D-Santa Fe), Senate Bill 44 would make it a petty misdemeanor to carry a gun within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day or during early voting. The law would apply to both loaded and unloaded guns.
“Passing this legislation would increase the amount of protection available to our election administrators, poll workers, and voters, and it would work towards eliminating threats of fear and intimidation,” the New Mexico Office of the Secretary of State said in an analysis. The bill would add to existing laws that make it illegal to intimidate voters.
But what about the Second Amendment? According to the New Mexico Administrative Office of the District Attorneys, the bill would likely not be at odds with the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The U.S. Supreme Court [in several cases] repeated its assurances that certain prohibitions and regulatory measures do not offend the Second Amendment, including prohibitions on carrying firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings,” the Administrative Office of the District Attorneys explained in an analysis. “A polling place would be such a sensitive location, susceptible to the violence that has increased around elections and politics.”
More than a dozen other states already have some sort of restriction on firearms at polling places, according to Giffords Law Center, an advocacy and research group. That includes Arizona, California, and Texas.
As the bill made its way through Senate committees, Sen. Cliff R. Pirtle (R-Chaves, Eddy & Otero) tried to add an amendment to allow concealed carry under the bill, but that amendment failed. The bill still needs to get approval by legislators in the House of Representatives and the Governor before it becomes law.