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As Lawmakers Return to Santa Fe, Gun Violence Prevention Must Take Center Stage 

January 16, 2024

Today, lawmakers return to Santa Fe to convene for the legislative session. Last session, lawmakers advanced various gun safety bills. Just last Friday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her full support for several life-saving gun safety bills aimed to curb gun violence in the state, including a ban on assault weapons. Now, as lawmakers convene for session, they have a unique opportunity to continue building on their progress and make New Mexico a leader in the fight against gun violence. 

A snapshot of the life-saving legislation on docket this year: 

  • Assault Weapon Ban (Rep. Romero): This first-in-the-nation legislation at the state level is modeled after Senator Heinrich’s federal bill and prohibits the sale, transfer, and receipt of gas-operated semi automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This includes weapons commonly used in mass tragedies, and military-style rifles that, especially when paired with large-capacity magazines, allow mass shooters to unleash destructive, rapid-fire barrages on unsuspecting victims in seconds.
  • Raising the minimum age of purchase (Rep. Szczepanski): Under federal law, a person must be 21 to buy a handgun, or 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun, from a federally licensed gun dealer. New Mexico law currently allows people as young as 19 to possess handguns, and the state has no age restrictions for the possession of rifles and shotguns. This legislation raises the minimum age of purchase and possession of many semi automatic firearms —including handguns and rifles— to 21. 
  • Implementing Waiting Periods (Rep. Romero): This legislation strengthens the state’s gun safety laws by creating a 14-day waiting period on all firearm purchases to ensure firearms aren’t being transferred during a moment of an acute mental health crisis that could result in the person harming themselves or others.
  • Amendments to the State’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Law (Reps. Chandler and Garratt): This legislation allows law enforcement officers and health care professionals to report warning signs so that law enforcement can seek an extreme risk protection order. It also allows law enforcement to get a search warrant if they believe a person in crisis has not surrendered all their firearms. 
  • Firearm Industry Accountability Act (Rep. Chandler): This legislation requires gun industry members to take proactive measures to prevent thefts and unlawful sales. It also changes the state statute to allow gun manufacturers to be held liable for deceptive trade practices.  

All of these measures are critical to New Mexico’s mission to public safety and will give families across the state the peace of mind that strong gun safety laws are in place to promote public safety and prevent senseless gun violence. As we await further legislative action on gun violence prevention bills, Moms Demand Action and Student Demand Action Volunteers will continue to advocate for these measures every step of the way. 
In an average year, 492 people die by guns. With a rate of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 people, New Mexico has the 6th-highest rate of gun deaths in the US. The rate of gun deaths has increased 80% from 2012 to 2021 in New Mexico, compared to a 39% increase nationwide.  More information about gun violence in New Mexico is available here.

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