On Tuesday, November 1, at 1:00 pm, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety will hold a public hearing to receive public comment and input on the implementation of the Concealed Handgun Carry Act. The proposed rule changes will establish new requirements and procedures regarding licenses to carry, instructors and firearms training courses. The proposed rule(s) can be found here, and the hearing will be held at the below location:
Law Enforcement Academy Auditorium
Tuesday, November 1 at 1:00pm
4491 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Comments may also be submitted at the hearing or via email to Kathleen.firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than when the meeting begins on November 1.
The purpose of the proposed amended rules, ostensibly, is to address changes made to the statute with the passage of House Bill 431 in 2015 (relating to concealed handgun application fees and training requirements for New Mexico Mounted Patrol and military service members) and to account for advances in technology that allow for electronic fingerprinting of concealed handgun license applicants.
However, included along with those changes are a number of significant new policy proposals unrelated to any legislative action and not based on any evidence of widespread problems involving these impacted categories of individuals:
• All New Mexico residents who carry in-state under the authority of a reciprocal state license, or anyone moving to the state who may currently legally carry under the authority of a reciprocal state license, could be forced to apply for a New Mexico license.
Under Proposed Rule 10.8.2.15 (A), “[a]ll New Mexico residents must attend a department approved firearms training course taught by a department approved instructor unless he or she received the license by transfer of an out-of-state license.” (“Resident”, according to Proposed Rule 10.8.2.7 means “a person who, for a period of not less than ninety (90) days immediately preceding the date of application for the license, has been domiciled in New Mexico, does not claim residence elsewhere for any purpose, and is otherwise entitled to claim residence in another state.”)
Under Proposed Rule 10.8.2.15 (A), “[a] person establishing New Mexico residency must transfer his or her license from another state. The license holder has ninety (90) days from establishing New Mexico residency to file an application for a New Mexico renewed license on the form prescribed by the department. An applicant for transfer shall not carry a concealed handgun in New Mexico until the applicant receives a New Mexico license unless he or she has a license from a state that has been accepted by reciprocity by New Mexico.”
Proposed Rule 10.8.2.15 (A) appears to cover all current New Mexico residents and Proposed Rule 10.8.2.17 (B) applies to people establishing residency in New Mexico. Read together, they require current residents who only hold out-of-state licenses and anyone moving in with a license from a reciprocal state to apply within 90 days for a transfer of that license to DPS and receive a New Mexico renewed license. If the firearms training required by the other state does not meet New Mexico’s firearm training requirements, then the applicant for transfer must complete the full 15 hours of instruction required by New Mexico law for an original license (rather than the four-hour refresher course required for a renewed license.) Since New Mexico’s training requirements exceed all other states’, the practical effect of these provisions is to force the categories of individuals described above to go through a process equivalent to applying for an original New Mexico concealed handgun license – which, again, involves a minimum of 15 hours of training. This would also apply to dependents of military service persons, who would now be considered residents under a newly-established definition of resident in Proposed Rule 10.8.2.7(P).
New Mexico residents can legally carry today under the authority of an out-of-state reciprocal license, and have for years without incident. The New Mexico license application process is more expensive, time-consuming, and overly-burdensome compared to other states, especially when it comes to the minimum training requirements. This, along with the fact that New Mexico licenses are not recognized by as many states as other state’s licenses are, has created an incentive for New Mexico residents to seek out-of-state licenses. It is also not uncommon for New Mexico residents who live in communities bordering other states to obtain licenses from those other states if they travel there frequently for business or to visit family, for the same reasons. New Mexico’s carry law needs to be brought more into line with the laws of surrounding states – and while that is the job of the Legislature, the agency charged with overseeing the carry law should not take administrative action to impose more de facto restrictions.
• All DPS-approved instructors would be required to complete “in-service training” every other year, administered by the agency.
Under Proposed Rule 10.8.2.25 (A) & (B), “[a]ll New Mexico instructors shall receive a minimum of eight (8) hours of training biennially. Required training may be conducted by the department’s concealed carry program at regional locations and, where scheduling will allow, the concealed carry program will assign staff to instruct the course.”
It is unclear what has prompted this new layer of regulation pertaining to instructors that is being proposed by the department more than a decade into administration of the concealed carry law. The proposed rule does not explain what type of training is required or from whom or where it may be obtained. It simply states that the department “may” be the entity to deliver it. Note that this is above and beyond whatever instructors already do to maintain their certification by the organization which accredits them in the first place. Additionally, Proposed Rule 10.8.2.24 contains new restrictions governing instructor recordkeeping requirements, the hiring and usage of guest instructors for concealed carry classes and the ratio of instructors to students on the firing range.
This will be your last chance to comment on these proposed rules which affect your concealed carry rights and the delivery of the firearm-instruction and license-issuing system in New Mexico.