After a lot of hard work and input from a number of different legislators and departments, a bill attempting to institute background checks on gun purchases made at gun shows was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.
The vote in favor of the bill was 13-3, with three Republicans voting against passing the bill to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. Note: Post updated with the three no votes at the bottom of the post.
“The background checks that are being proposed… basically are to close the private sale loophole only at gun shows,” Garcia said. This means the bill would not address person-to-person transactions that go through without background checks.
The committee substitute also addressed mental health components related to gun ownership.
The committee amended the bill to say those who qualified for concealed carry licenses would not have to undergo the background checks. Only those who had valid concealed carry licenses in the state of New Mexico would qualify, as New Mexico does not recognize all other states’ concealed carry licenses.
Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, described the work done with a number of different entities, from the Department of Public Safety to Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque.
“I see it no longer as my bill. I see it really as a committee substitute bill that has [non]-partisan support,” Garcia said.
One issue that had been brought up was the talk of a “antique” firearms and if a unique identifier would have to be put on them, which one Republican member of the panel says would ruin the value of the firearm for resale.
Gentry said his big concern was qualifying for NICS which would allow New Mexico to have federal funds.
Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, was one of three Republicans to oppose the legislation.
“I think there is a problem when there is a cost to exercise your constitutional right,” Rehm said, echoing his comments from the previous hearing. “I said something similar to a poll tax.”
Rehm also said there were ways to get around the background check components of the bill.
“We’re once again passing meaningless legislation,” he said.
He also said that this legislation would not have prevented the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT or the South Valley Griego shooting.
Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said it was not necessarily about shootings like at Sandy Hook.
He did say that “States which close gun show loophole see 75 percent reduction in export of illegal guns from their state.”
The progressive group ProgressNow New Mexico hailed the decision.
“Though we hold out hope for closing the private-sale loophole, the compromise House Bill 77 does a great deal to make New Mexico safer by instituting background checks at gun shows, which for too long has been a glaring hole in the effort to prevent guns from getting into the hands of dangerous and unstable people,” ProgressNow New Mexico executive director Pat Davis said in a statement. “What’s more, this is one of the only bipartisan pieces of gun-reform legislation moving in the nation – a fact that should make New Mexicans proud.”
In addition to Rehm, Reps. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, and Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, were the three no votes on passage.