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New Mexico: House Bill 77 Re-Incarnated – Same Song, Second Verse: Committee Substitute Still Contains Obama-Style Ban/Regulation Of Private Gun Transfers

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Act TODAY to Stop Passage of New Version of House Gun Control Bill!

The proposed method in House Bill 77 has been changed, but the gun control advocates’ end-game remains the same: universal regulation of private firearms transfers.  The newly-released committee substitute for HB 77 would make it a crime for a private individual to transfer his or her legally-owned firearm without going through a federal firearm licensed dealer (FFL) to conduct a background check on the transferee.  Exceptions are made for only certain categories of individuals – family members, domestic partners, stepchildren, foster or adopted children, or persons who live in the same residence and maintain a single economic unit.  However, the provisions in HB 77 would still apply to gun sales, gifts, loans, rentals or trades between friends, neighbors, co-workers or more-distant relatives.  These restrictions would not apply to temporary transfers during hunting or target practice, but the possible breadth and scope of the legislation is endless.

Even though the vast majority of vendors at most gun shows are FFLs and already conducting background checks on gun sales, under this proposal, individuals looking to sell or trade a firearm from their personal collection at these events would also be forced to go through an FFL before transferring their lawfully-owned personal property.  Gun show promoters would be required to arrange for one or more FFLs to be present at such events to conduct required background checks or be subject to criminal penalties.

While HB 77 establishes that FFLs may charge a fee for conducting these checks for third parties, there is no limit to what that charge could possibly be.  Additionally, there is no immunity from liability provided to FFLs who conduct background checks for third parties, either at their retail establishment or at gun shows, or for private sellers who enlist the services of an FFL to comply with the provisions of HB 77. 

Even though they have already undergone the same background check required by HB 77 before being issued a license, New Mexico Concealed Handgun Licensees are not exempt from the restrictions imposed by HB 77.  The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has repeatedly denied requests from individual lawmakers and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to grant New Mexico CHLs a waiver from the background check conducted when purchasing a firearm from an FFL.

Enactment of HB 77 would actually reduce the penalty for unlawful transfer of a firearm to a prohibited individual. Under federal law, it is a felony for any private individual to sell, trade, give, lend, rent or transfer a gun to a person he or she knows or should have known is not legally allowed to purchase or possess a firearm.  We already know that federal law is rarely – if ever – enforced, so this bill would create the same crime in New Mexico statute, but make it a misdemeanor.

Once again, this latest version of HB 77 fails to recognize that criminals acquire firearms predominantly through theft, black market sales, and straw purchases – all illegal transfers currently.  Rarely do they purchase firearms through legal channels.  On the rare occasion that they do, they are almost never prosecuted.  The only individuals who will be impacted by the bureaucratic and onerous requirements in this proposed legislation are law-abiding citizens.  HB 77 contains no enforcement mechanisms and actually reduces the penalties for violators.

The public policy focus of state lawmakers should be on improving the accuracy and quality of information compiled in the NICS system – specifically, disqualifying state mental health records – and aggressively prosecuting violators of federal firearms laws.

The House Judiciary Committee will consider the committee substitute to HB 77 on Monday, February 4, at 1:30pm (or upon adjournment of the House) in Room 309 of the State Capitol in Santa Fe.  It is critical that we pack the hearing room to show strong opposition to these far-reaching restrictions.  Continue contacting the committee members below and urging them to OPPOSE HB 77 in its most current form.  Please also contact your own State Representative and let them know where you stand!


To determine your state lawmaker and obtain their contact information, click here.

For more information from NRA-ILA on restrictions on private transfers, please click here.


House Judiciary Committee


Rep. Gail Chasey, Chair (D-ABQ) 


Rep. Georgene Louis, Vice-Chair (D-ABQ)


Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon (D-Milan)


Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad)


Rep. Zach Cook (R-Ruidoso)


Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe)


Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-Belen)


Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-ABQ *sponsor of the measure*)


Rep. Nate Gentry (R-ABQ)


Rep. Emily Kane (D-ABQ)


Rep. Moe Maestas (D-ABQ)


Rep. Terry McMillan (R-Las Cruces)


Rep. Paul Pacheco (R-ABQ)


Rep. Bill Rehm (R-ABQ)


Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-ABQ)


Rep. Mimi Stewart (D-ABQ)





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