Gun buyers in New Mexico could soon be subject to a two-week delay in exercising their right to keep and bear arms if a bill introduced in the Democratic-controlled state legislature becomes law.
House Bill 100, filed by Rep. Andrea Romero, would exempt transfers for law enforcement and between immediate family members, but would impose the mandatory two-week waiting period on all commercial sales and the vast majority of private transfers as well. According to Romero, the restriction is just a “common-sense way to prevent impulsive acts of gun violence,” but Second Amendment advocates in New Mexico see it as a threat to a fundamental right at worst, and at the very least a significant burden on many law-abiding citizens.
While the legislation has already gained support, it’s also gained opposition. Like Mark Abramson, who owns Los Ranchos Gun Shop.
“This is the greatest assault on gun ownership that I’ve seen since we’ve been in business,” he said.
Abramson says the 14-day waiting period is a big inconvenience for him since some customers travel hundreds of miles to purchase a weapon from his store.
“We have customers who travel over 100 miles to come to our store to buy a firearm,” he said. “They’ll be prohibited from purchasing that firearm functionally.”
The gun shop owner also added that the delay wouldn’t make a difference in preventing further violence toward others.
“I think the reason they’re looking at a cooling-off period [is] if someone’s buying a gun for an improper reason. There’s no science behind that [though],” Abramson said. “Gun owners should be very afraid.”
The only other state with a 14-day waiting period for gun purchases is Hawaii, which also (coincidentally or not) also has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership in the country. As Abramson notes, many would-be gun owners might struggle to make multiple 100-mile trips in order to purchase a gun, and some of them will undoubtably be dissuaded from exercising their right to do so because of the law.
Which is undoubtably just fine with Romero, who’s also taking a “hard” approach to banning modern sporting rifles in the state. In addition to the waiting period bill known as HB 100, the Democrat is also the author of HB 101, which would make it a felony offense to make, buy, sell, or continue to possess a so-called “assault weapon” or “large capacity” magazine (defined, in this case, as more than ten rounds). There are competing gun ban bills that would grandfather in existing owners, but Romero wants no part of them.
[Sen. Bill] Soules said his proposed legislation would not include enforcing laws against assault rifles that are already legally in the hands of New Mexicans. Romero, though, said the state would have to take a “hard” approach to enforcing the law against current owners of such weapons.
“The question is how willing are we to keep New Mexicans safe and what is at stake to prevent these atrocities from happening?” she said.
On Twitter, the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association sought some clarity from Romero on exactly what that “hard” approach would look like.
We can do “hard” things. We intend to keep our communities safe from the threat of someone bringing an assault weapon to an elementary or high school, a church, a mall, a grocery store, a concert, or a nightclub.
Assault weapons have no place in our communities.
— Andrea Romero (@ARomero_NM) January 20, 2023
Now either Romero has no clue what a “hard” approach to enforcing her gun ban would like or, (far more likely) she knows that it’s better to stay quiet about her expectations while she’s lobbying for Democrats to get behind her bill. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called for a ban on “assault weapons” in her State of the State speech kicking off this year’s legislative session, so she’s on board, but there are some Democrats who are publicly hesitant to trying to grab guns.
Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, said in an interview Wednesday he could not yet predict whether an assault weapons ban would have enough support to make it through both chambers and to the governor’s desk for her signature.
“I really don’t know if it has a chance or not,” he said. “We don’t know where everybody stands.”
He expressed doubt about whether New Mexicans who already owned assault rifles would readily surrender their guns.
“Who’s going to walk in and say, ‘Here’s my AK,’ ” he said.
And how many law enforcement agencies are going to take a hands-off approach to demanding people hand over their guns, as we’ve seen with the dozens of Illinois sheriffs who say they will not be making arrests solely for violating the state’s new ban on “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines?
New Mexico has a crime problem, not a gun problem, and it’s only gotten worse over the last few years as the Democratic majority has imposed “universal background checks”, “red flag” laws, and more. In fact, according to FBI crime statistics New Mexico now has the second-highest violent crime rate in the nation. Turning the tens of thousands of residents who lawfully purchased and possessed the guns Romero wants to ban into felons isn’t going to make the state any safer. If Romero’s ban were to become law and allowed to take effect, it would instead create an entire class of criminals; ones who refuse to give up their fundamental rights just because the state demands they do so.
We’re going to be talking more about New Mexico on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co next week, but if you’re a gun owner in the Land of Enchantment now would be a great time to get involved with groups like the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association. Second Amendment advocates are going to need to present a united front; not only during this legislative session, but in the legal battles that are likely to come soon as a result of lawmakers’ scorched earth attack on the right to keep and bear arms.