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New Mexico: Non-Contiguous States Firearm Purchase Provision Explained

Friday, February 3, 2012

Senate Bill 26, sponsored by state Senator Bill Payne (R-Albuquerque), received a “do pass” recommendation in the Senate Public Affairs Committee on January 31.  This legislation is now expected to be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee TOMORROW (Saturday, February 4) although at press time an exact time is not known.  Senators will be working this weekend, so please call Senate Judiciary Committee members on Saturday morning and urge them to support SB 26.  Contact information for the Committee Members can be found here.

This NRA and NMSSA-supported legislation would allow New Mexico residents to purchase long guns in non-contiguous states, and residents of non-contiguous states to purchase long guns in New Mexico. 

Some confusion has arisen over Senate Bill 26 and its companion bill in the House, House Bill 32 by state Representative Bill Rehm (R-ABQ).  The intent and effect of these measures is to clean up New Mexico's criminal code by removing provisions that became obsolete with the passage of the federal Firearms Owners' Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986. 

Originally, the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 banned interstate sales of firearms but contained an exception for long gun transactions occurring between federally licensed dealers (FFLs) and residents of contiguous states.  Such sales could occur only if “the purchaser’s State of residence permit[ted] such sale or delivery by law.” Thus, states then passed provisions such as NMSA Section 30-7-9 specifically allowing their residents to buy long guns from FFLs in contiguous states. 

FOPA, however, removed both the contiguous states limitation and the requirement that the purchaser’s state of residence specifically authorize the purchase.  Now, interstate sales of rifles and shotguns can occur between FFLs and residents of any state, as long as “the sale, delivery, and receipt fully comply with the legal conditions of sale in both such States.”  Some states which had passed enabling provisions similar to NMSA Section 30-7-9 have not revised their statutes to reflect this change in federal law.  This has caused confusion among FFLs who interpret "contiguous state" provisions as prohibiting long gun sales to residents of noncontiguous states.  What used to be viewed as "permissive" in the context of the federal GCA is now viewed as "restrictive" under FOPA.

To eliminate this confusion, the best course of action is to repeal the antiquated provisions of NMSA Section 30-7-9 which conflict with federal law.  That is what SB 26 and HB 32 would accomplish if enacted into law.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.