‘Our other pandemic’: Proposed program would address gun violence in New Mexico

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – State leaders keep saying crime and gun violence prevention will be one of the top priorities this legislative session. Now, more is being learned about one part of the crime-fighting package that lawmakers will consider.


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Following deadly shootings at parties, high profile officer-involved shootings — state leaders keep saying New Mexico has got to crack down on gun crimes. “I call it our other pandemic that fills our hospital beds and destroys our families and communities,” said Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

Viscoli wants to attack gun violence that way the state has drunk driving.

“Our youth are really understanding that you don’t drink and drive. Well, we’ve got to do the same thing with our youth. You don’t bring a gun to a party,” said Viscoli.

She thinks memorable public service announcements like the ones you see in the state’s ENDWI campaign would make a difference but campaigns and other educational resources cost money. “So for instance, with DWI, we put in $20 million a year, which is great. We’re seeing a reduction in DWI but we have three times as many people shot and killed in New Mexico and we put next to nothing when it comes to prevention,” Viscoli said.

That’s where the just proposed Office of Gun Violence Prevention would come in. “We’re going to be including it as part of a crime-fighting package this year that will be considered up at the Roundhouse,” said Representative Day Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque).

Rep. Hochman-Vigil is sponsoring the proposed $20 million office which would in part create a gun violence prevention campaign. “This is what gun violence looks like, these are the ramifications of gun violence, this is what happens when you lose your temper and you also have access to a gun,” Rep. Hochman-Vigil said.

Data would also be compiled on gun violence incidents and kept in one place, helping officials identify root causes in individual communities. “Until we stand up this office, pretty much all we have is anecdotal evidence. What might be causing gun violence in Albuquerque might be an entirely different factor causing gun violence in Roswell or Tucumcari,” Rep. Hochman-Vigil said.

Hochman-Vigil says this is not a gun control bill and thinks bipartisan support is possible. “This office would actually teach people about safe gun use, safe gun storage, make sure the laws we do have on the books are working in regards to gun control it’ll also give us answers as to whether gun control actually works,” Hochman-Vigil said.

They believe funding a focused and dedicated approach to gun violence prevention is a key first step in finally getting gun crimes under control. “If we start attacking it like that, if we start putting funding like we do into DWI into gun violence prevention programs in New Mexico, we will see a difference,” Viscoli said.

The governor’s office says they are working through proposals for the upcoming session and are focused on reducing violence across the state. As of now, no bills have been filed online so it’s not clear what other rules or ideas may be on the table. The 30-day legislative session begins in January.

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