New Mexico gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are breathing a sigh of relief today after the 2023 New Mexico legislative session wrapped up on Saturday while leaving several of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s top gun control priorities unaddressed and unable to become law.
Less than a month ago Lujan Grisham was describing a ban on “assault weapons,” barring under-21s from purchasing firearms, and establishing a 14-day waiting period on all firearm transfers as “must haves” this session. She even threatened to haul lawmakers back to Santa Fe for a special session on gun control if the Democrat majorities failed to deliver the anti-2A measures to her desk. By Saturday afternoon, shortly after the session’s close, the governor was singing a different tune.
“I know that is an area that you want me to say I’m disappointed,” Lujan Grisham added. “I’m motivated. I am very motivated to find additional ways to make sure that we really do everything in our power that makes our communities and cities in our state safe.”
The Legislature passed a gun storage law named after a 13-year-old Albuquerque boy authorities say was shot and killed by a fellow student who took his father’s gun to an Albuquerque middle school.
Lawmakers also passed a bill that cracks down on organized retail crime and made it a fourth-degree felony to buy a gun for another person who is prohibited from owning a firearm.
But some of the governor’s biggest priorities went nowhere, including a ban on assault weapons; a bill to raise the age to 21 to buy or possess semi-automatic firearms, including assault weapons; and a 14-day waiting period to buy guns.
Other gun-related legislation — prohibiting firearms within 100 feet of polling places and updating the Unfair Trade Practices Act to lift restrictions on the filing of lawsuits against manufacturers or distributors — passed the Senate but didn’t get a hearing in the House, where they were likely to meet stiff opposition.
Given the fact that Democrats control both chambers of the legislature and have previously passed Lujan Grisham-suggested bills including “universal” background checks and a “red flag” firearms seizure law, the unwillingness of lawmakers to go along with the vast majority of the governor’s anti-gun mandates is a truly welcome development for gun owners. As for the governor’s previous calls for a special session, it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen after all.
Since taking office in 2019, Lujan Grisham has called at least one special session in every year except for her first year as governor.
She suggested a special session on crime bills would not be in the works, though she cautioned lawmakers to expect public pressure on the issue after an election cycle in which crime played a prominent role.
“I try not to use special sessions as a tool to force issues that we don’t have good collaboration on,” Lujan Grisham said.
But she said she would have called a special session on medical malpractice issues, had lawmakers not been able to broker a late-session compromise.
Looking ahead, Lujan Grisham also said she would continue to seek passage of additional gun-related legislation, citing specifically proposals to enact a waiting period for firearm purchases and increasing from 18 to 21 the minimum age for buying certain types of guns.
“New Mexicans should know that as long as I’m governor, I’m going to keep trying to reduce to the highest degree, gun violence and violence in particular,” the governor said.
And as long as she continues blaming responsible gun owners for the actions of violent criminals, gun owners in the state are going to keep pushing back. By the time next year’s session kicks off, we’re also likely to have several more good court decisions around the country that will cut against Lujan Grisham’s anti-gun agenda.
This was supposed to be a big year for gun control activists in the state, who were hoping that the Democratic backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen would enable them to enact several major restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, they managed to get a gun storage bill signed into law, but virtually every other item on their anti-2A agenda was either voted down outright, bottled up in committee, or failed to get a vote on the floor of either the House or Senate. This is a major victory for gun owners and Second Amendment advocates in New Mexico, and a welcome defeat for the gun prohibitionists in the state.