New Mexico Sheriffs Speak Out Against Bills to Criminalize Virtually Every Private Firearms Transfer in New Mexico
“…bill does nothing to protect our citizens.”
All 33 of New Mexico’s sheriffs oppose legislation in the Roundhouse that would criminalize virtually all private firearms transfers in the state. They join a growing number of New Mexicans who are opposing Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50.
“The reason I’m opposed to it is because they are trying to make it harder for citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.” Raul Villanueva, Grant County sheriff, Silver City Sun-News, February 13
“These bills would make it more difficult for law-abiding New Mexicans to exercise their Second Amendment rights, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and do nothing to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.” – Marco Lucero, Los Alamos County sheriff, Los Alamos Daily Post, February 6
“This bill does nothing to protect our citizens.” -- Tony Mace, Cibola County sheriff, KKOB radio, February 2
“This is a huge step toward a gun registry in New Mexico and I’m sorry, but Big Brother does not need to know what guns I own.”-- Tony Mace, Cibola County sheriff & vice chair of the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association, NRA TV, February 3
“These proposed measures will confuse honest citizens and confound law enforcement, potentially draining local resources…in New Mexico.” – Heath White, Torrance County sheriff, Mountain View Telegraph, February 2
“Not only are we infringing on the personal freedoms and liberties of our citizens to dispose their personal property as they see fit, but we’re also running into the situation where it is a foot in the door for gun registration.” – Glenn Hamilton, Sierra County sheriff, KKOB radio, February 2
“The sheriffs overwhelmingly agree in New Mexico that on the surface, this law is almost unenforceable.” – Glenn Hamilton, Sierra County sheriff, KKOB radio, February 2
“In no way, shape, or form is this bill going to stop a career criminal from obtaining a firearm or committing a crime with a firearm.” -- Mike Munk, Cibola County undersheriff, KKOB radio, February 2
“We don’t want to criminalize honest, everyday citizens and this has nothing to do with fighting the battle that we fight in law enforcement and that is convicted criminals out there with firearms committing crimes.” Mike Munk, Cibola County undersheriff, KKOB radio, February 2
GET THE FACTS
SB 48 AND HB 50: Wrong for New Mexico
SB 48 and HB 50 would prohibit you from selling firearms from your personal collection to any distant relatives, long-time friends, business partners, neighbors, or fellow gun club members without government permission.
The bills would criminalize nearly all private firearm sales between individuals, regardless of where those transactions take place, and require them to be conducted through a licensed dealer involving extensive federal paperwork, background check 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, federal firearms licensees 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 also restrict firearm transfers—including gifts, loans, exchanges and other temporary changes in possession of a firearm, not just gun sales (which involve an exchange of currency or a permanent change of ownership or title). House Bill 50 has been amended and its provisions regarding transfers are now slightly different than Senate Bill 48, as explained below.
Senate Bill 48: In an attempt to garner support for this misguided proposal, advocates excluded a limited number of "temporary" firearm transfers from the acts' provisions: transfers necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, those taking place exclusively at shooting ranges, exclusively while hunting or trapping, exclusively during an organized competition or performance, or any time the transferor remains present the entire time the transfer is taking place. These exemptions are poorly-worded, confusing and inadequate. Examples of commonplace activities that would 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.
- Working ranch employees possessing and transporting ranch-owned rifles in vehicles or on their person.
SB 48 also appears to require that the return of loaned firearms to their original owners be conducted through a licensed dealer, with the accompanying federal paperwork, background check and payment of an undetermined fee—even if the original transfer is exempt from such a requirement.
House Bill 50: At the sponsor’s request, the anti-gun members of the House Judiciary Committee adopted a substitute for the original bill, which deletes all the exceptions for temporary firearm transfers found in the original bill and, instead, requires a trip to an FFL, completion of federal paperwork, background check and payment of an undetermined fee on any transfer that is for longer than a period of five days. So, in the above scenarios, if you loaned your girlfriend or fiancee a handgun for protection for more than five days, if you were deployed for a period of time longer than five days and wanted to leave your guns with a friend, if you borrowed your buddy’s rifle to go on a hunting trip for more than five days, if you gave your employee a shotgun to carry around while working a full week at your ranch – these transfers would all be subject to state and federal regulation.
These proposals will tax scarce law enforcement resources, cost law-abiding citizens time, money and freedom, and they will do nothing to stop criminals.