New Mexico Democrats Defend State Capitol Gun Ban

AP Photo/Morgan Lee

The Democrats in control of the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico decided to ban the carrying of firearms inside the state capitol building not long ago, but a top Republican lawmaker says the move violates the Second Amendment rights of citizens; hinting that a lawsuit may be in the works if the ban is put in place.

At the moment, the ban is set to take effect in December, though the Democrats haven’t figured out how to pay for the additional security and staffing that will be required to ensure that no citizen dare exercise their right to bear arms in the capitol building.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, who proposed the policy change, said during an interview the timing was intentional and aimed at ensuring firearms are not allowed in the Roundhouse for the two upcoming sessions.

This year’s 60-day session was conducted while the state Capitol was off-limits to lobbyists and members of the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Security fencing was also erected outside the building due to threats made after the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington.

“It just felt like the time was right,” Wirth told the Journal.

He also said he’s hopeful the policy does not alter the character of the Roundhouse, which frequently welcomes tourists and school groups, but acknowledged it marks a significant change.

“In some senses, it’s sad we have to be in this place,” Wirth said. “But it’s one of the realities of the times we live in.”

I’d describe the move as a direct result of the ideology of the Democratic Party, not the “realities of the times we live in” though I suppose it is a reality that the Democratic Party largely consists of people who think guns should be banned, gun owners should be disarmed, and the Second Amendment should be written out of the Constitution. I wish that wasn’t the case, and I do see some slow but steady progress in the right direction, but at the moment anti-gun attitudes like Wirth’s hold sway in the party.

And yes, this gun ban was put in place with a party line vote.

The move to ban guns and other deadly weapons – including switchblades, bowie knives and brass knuckles – from the Roundhouse was approved by a group of top-ranking lawmakers despite opposition from minority Republicans.

Several GOP lawmakers said the gun-free Roundhouse policy would prevent female legislators with concealed carry permits from defending themselves.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce described the change as a violation of New Mexicans’ constitutional rights, even though courthouses and other government buildings already bar the carrying of firearms.

“People have a right to protect themselves, and progressives in Santa Fe are again ignoring the rights and freedoms of citizens,” Pearce said.

Does the ban violate the constitutional rights of citizens? Personally, I’d argue yes, though I don’t know that the Supreme Court would agree with me. The issue of banning guns from “sensitive places” like government buildings came up during oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen last Wednesday, and several justices seemed to be leaning towards the idea that if those places offer increased security measures to go along with their gun-free zones, then a prohibition on legally carried firearms would likely withstand court scrutiny.

That still doesn’t make it a good idea, however. Not only are many law-abiding citizens, including staffers and legislators, going to be unable to protect themselves while walking to and from the Roundhouse itself, but the move by Democrats erects another barrier (both physical and psychological) between politicians and the people they are supposed to represent. Democrats just got trounced in the off-year elections around the country, and with the state House and the governorship in New Mexico up for grabs next year, the party would be much better off looking to make inroads with gun owners and Second Amendment supporters. Instead, they’re doubling down on their anti-gun ideology and treating law-abiding citizens as if they’re dangerous criminals or domestic terrorists.

We saw how well that strategy worked out in Virginia (where Democrats also declared the state capitol building and surrounding public land) this year. In a state that Biden won by ten points, Republicans swept statewide offices and won back a majority in the House of Delegates. How did Biden do in New Mexico in 2020? He won the state… by ten points. So, enjoy your “gun-free” Roundhouse, Democrats. At least while you’re still in control of it.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET