House Bill 77, state Representative Miguel Garcia’s (D- Bernalillo) legislation that would have criminalized non-dealer firearm transfers at gun shows in New Mexico and taken the first step towards a universal ban on private gun sales, failed to receive final action in the Roundhouse during the last moments of the sixty-day 2013 legislative session.
A total of six committee meetings and hearings were held on this bill over the last two months, during which testimony by both opponents and supporters of this measure was severely restricted. Clearly, HB 77 backers were more interested in ramming a gun control bill through the state Legislature than allowing the public to exercise their First Amendment right to speak on the flaws of this proposed legislation.
Although it contained language that would have strengthened reporting requirements on individuals who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, HB 77 remained, first and foremost, a poorly-written gun control bill from beginning to end. For instance, even after significant revisions and half a dozen hearings, events like the National Junior High School Rodeo Finals and classes at the NRA Whittington Center could have been considered “gun shows” under the definitions in this legislation. Lacking a pro-Second Amendment majority on any Senate committee to defeat or significantly alter this bill’s language, Democratic Senator George Munoz from Gallup and Senate Republicans were left no choice but to force lengthy debate on HB 77 and offer amendments to address issues such as the definition problems when it was taken up on the Senate floor at the 11th hour. Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez (R) gaveled the session to a close at noon on Saturday, as time expired while HB 77 was being debated on the Senate floor.
HB 77-supporter Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-Belen) sternly warned that this bill will be back again in the future, and he publicly challenged Governor Susana Martinez (R) to put it on the agenda for the 2014 legislative session. The Governor has the power to “message” non-fiscal related items and make them eligible for consideration during the thirty-day budget session. Please contact Governor Martinez and respectfully urge her to resist calls to message anything similar to HB 77 next year. Contact information for Governor Martinez can be found here.
Also defeated this session were House Bill 402, a sweeping New York-style gun and magazine ban, and House Bill 578, banning the carrying of firearms in the state capitol. Both were sponsored by state Representative Stephen Easley (D-Eldorado). HB 402 was narrowly defeated in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee by a 3-2 vote. The House Republican Caucus had sent a letter to this committee stating their uniform opposition to HB 402, as reported here by the NRA-ILA. HB 578 never received a public hearing in the House Rules Committee.
Thanks to all NRA members who attended committee hearings, sent e-mails and made phone calls in opposition to these measures. Without your vigilance, gun control surely would have been passed and enacted in Santa Fe this session!