Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action
An effort to ban automatic weapons in New Mexico was tabled by a 6-3 bipartisan committee vote this week, meaning it is probably dead for the session.
Senate Bill 171 would have banned the manufacture, sale, trade or ownership of automatic firearms, died in the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. According to KRQE News, the bill was supported by Democrats, but other published reports say the measure died by “bipartisan rejection” after state Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) indicated the “legal landscape” has shifted in the wake of last summer’s Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The high court decision has had an impact on legislation in many states, either making lawmakers more cautious, or more defiant.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, one Democrat voting against the bill—Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque—said the firearms targeted by the legislation “are already highly regulated through federal law.”
The newspaper also reported other proposals still under scrutiny include measures to create a 14-day waiting period for gun sales, a ban on guns at polling places and a ban on AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that some senators are wondering now whether some of the proposals now under consideration are constitutional, thanks to the new Bruen guidelines.
While Democrats control the legislature, Senators Cervantes, Ivey-Soto and Bill O’Neill voted with Republicans Greg Baca, Mark Moores and Cliff Pirtle to table the SB 171, the Santa Fe New Mexican noted.
Another proposal, House Bill 9, is moving. This is a “safe storage” measure making it a crime to negligently store firearms in a way making them accessible to minors. Cervantes was quoted by the Albuquerque Journal observing, “It may be one of the few guns bills we’re seeing that may withstand that (constitutional) scrutiny.”
HB 9 has already passed the House and is now in the Senate.
There appears little doubt the June 2022 Bruen ruling is having a far greater effect on the gun control movement than anyone could have imagined eight months ago. It has opened the door to several federal lawsuits challenging gun laws in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, and raising the potential for legal action against anti-gun legislation now being considered in Washington state.