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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, New Mexico House, Roundhouse » Bill closing gun show loophole passes House (updated)

Bill closing gun show loophole passes House (updated)

A bill that would close the loophole that allows some purchases at gun shows to go through without background checks passed the House after nearly two and a half hours of debate. The bill also allowed the state to pass information related to mental illness to the federal government to prevent those with mental illness from owning guns.

The bill passed with bipartisan support on a 43-26 vote. Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, did not vote despite being in his chair at the time of the vote.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

The bill is significantly different from the legislation that was initially introduced.

“It’s a well-worked on compromise bill,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, said. Garcia praised Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, for his work on the bill.

Gentry added language to the bill related to mental illness.

Gentry said of the mental illness provisions that he was “certain will keep guns out of the hands of people who will do horrible things.”

Not all Republicans were on board with the bill.

Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, was highly critical of the legislation when it was in the House Judiciary Committee and echoed some of his statements on the floor — including saying that gun owners having to pay for background checks was a “poll tax.”

Rehm also said there was no need for more gun laws.

“They have plenty of laws,” Rehm said. “There are some 20,000 gun laws that are on the book federally.”‘

The Washington Post found that this claim pushed forward by gun-rights advocates is dubiously-sourced.

Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico, also spoke up in opposition to the bill.

“It appears that some members are willing to stand up and beat their chests and say we really, really worked hard at a crime prevention bill that has absolutely no chance of preventing crime,” Roch said.

Roch noted that the guns used in the Aurora theater shooting, Newtown shooting and the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords would still be sold if this law was in effect.

Democrats defended the bill and criticized some of the criticisms from Republicans.

“The majority of NRA members support this bill,” Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said. “So I ask our members to support the membership of that organization.”

He also said, “It certainly isn’t a poll tax, but nice try.”

Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, noted that to exercise a constitutional right to trial-by-jury, citizens must pay a court fee and that this is not called a poll tax.

Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, said he owned two handguns, two rifles and a pump shotgun, but still supported the legislation.

“Background checks are a good thing,” McCamley said. “Responsibility is a good thing. This is not about insulting gun owners.”

Rep. Thomas Anderson, D-Albuquerque, also opposed the bill, saying, “There isn’t a gun show loophole unless the right of citizens to sell things to each other is a loophole.

Update (3:21 pm):

Eight Republicans voted for the bill while three Democrats voted against it.

The Republicans were Reps. Alaonz Baldonado of Los Lunas, Kelly Fajardo of Belen, Nate Gentry of Albuquerque, Jason Harper of Rio Rancho, Terry McMillan of Las Cruces, Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque, Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque and Jim White of Sandia Park.

The three Democrats who voted against the bill were Reps. Nate Cote of Organ, George Dodge of Santa Rosa and Kiki Saavedra of Albuqureque.

Photo by kdcdsTM/Flickr

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Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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