The New Mexico Legislature convenes for its 2017 Regular Session on Tuesday, January 17. As New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg seeks to impose his unpopular gun control agenda across the U.S., his latest target is New Mexico. Bloomberg-backed lawmakers have pre-filed legislation in Santa Fe for the upcoming session that would criminalize most private firearms sales and transfers in New Mexico. So-called “universal” background check bills do not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Instead, these laws turn law-abiding gun owners into criminals for commonplace activities.
Senate Bill 48, sponsored by state Senator Richard Martinez (D-Espanola), and House Bill 50, sponsored by state Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard, prohibit you from selling your personal firearms to any distant relatives, friends, neighbors, business associates, or fellow gun club members without government permission. The bills would criminalize nearly all private firearm sales between individuals and require them to be conducted through a licensed dealer involving extensive federal paperwork and payment of an undetermined fee. Licensed dealers will have to maintain the paperwork recording these transfers for twenty years. Limited exceptions are only made for immediate family members, FFLs and law enforcement agencies, executors or administrators of estates and trusts, or police officers, military personnel, and licensed security guards acting in the course of their official duties.
SB 48 and HB 50 similarly restrict firearm transfers -- including gifts, loans, and temporary changes in possession of a firearm, not just gun sales. To garner support for these misguided proposals, advocates included a limited number of exemptions: transfers necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, those taking place exclusively at shooting ranges, while hunting or trapping, or during an organized competition or performance, or any time the transferor remains present the entire duration of the transfer. These exemptions are confusing, raise serious questions about the bills’ scope, compliance and enforceability, and highlight the overreach of the measures. Activities that could be criminalized under the bills:
- A man loaning his girlfriend or fiancée his handgun for self-protection when homes or apartments in her neighborhood have been burglarized;
- A member of the military who gets deployed overseas and wants to store personal effects, including his or her firearms, with a trusted friend;
- Someone wishing to borrow their business colleague’s firearm when going on a hunting trip, to the local shooting range or to shoot on BLM land when the colleague cannot accompany him or her on the excursion.
Further, SB 48 and HB 50 appear to require that the return of loaned firearms to original owners be conducted through a licensed dealer, with the accompanying federal paperwork and payment of an undetermined fee – even if the original transfer was exempt from such a requirement. The bill exempts “temporary” exchanges and only then if the transfer and the transferee’s possession take place exclusively at one of the locations or during one of the activities listed in the paragraph above. Is the law violated when the original owner of the firearm is given back possession of their loaned gun and he or she and the person who was loaned the gun in the first place go their separate ways?
These proposals will tax scarce law enforcement resources, cost law-abiding citizens time, money and freedom, and they will do nothing to stop criminals. For more information about the ineffectiveness and unenforceability of universal private firearm transfer ban schemes, visit our SB 48 and HB 50 info page.
Please contact your state Representative and state Senator when the Legislature goes into session next week and urge them to OPPOSE SB 48 and HB 50. Contact information for your state lawmakers and a "Find Your Legislator" search engine can be found here.
Your NRA-ILA will report to you on which committees these restrictive measures are referred to and when they are scheduled for public hearings.