New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham may not have gotten the gun control bills she wanted from lawmakers this year, but the rebuke by her fellow Democrats in Santa Fe isn’t stopping her from demanding legislators approve a state-level version of the semi-auto ban just introduced in Congress by New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich when they return to the state capitol for a 30-day session in just a few weeks.
A similar bill, which would have banned both “large capacity” magazines and a host of semi-automatic firearms designated as “assault weapons”, was approved by a House committee in Santa Fe back in February, but never made it to the floor for a vote. That was one of several anti-gun items Grisham unsuccessfully lobbied for earlier this year, including a 14-day waiting period on all firearm transfers, but now Grisham is calling on lawmakers to try again with the GOSAFE Act as their inspiration this time around.
“Let’s try that vehicle in our own assault weapons ban in New Mexico because one thing that I have that the senator doesn’t have is I’ve got a set of lawmakers that are more likely than not to have a fair debate about guns, gun violence, weapons of war and keeping New Mexicans safe than members of Congress are,” Lujan Grisham said.
“I feel pretty good about our ability here,” she added. “We’ll have to see how those votes all shake out, but I think that that’s a game-changer for a lot of places, including New Mexico, so expect to see that on my call.”
The governor had vowed to ask lawmakers during the 30-day session that begins next month to reconsider an assault weapons ban after failing to get several major gun-control measures across the finish line during the 60-day session earlier this year.
Lujan Grisham noted while advocating for an assault weapons ban that a not-so-dangerous firearm can easily be modified into what she called a “weapon of war.”
“We don’t know how to define that because somebody comes up with a new kit about every 10 minutes about how to get around it, so then policymakers don’t want to deal with it, and courts don’t know where they are given the Second Amendment, and it gets really dicey, complicated, messy, so we just keep ignoring it,” she said. “Well, Senator Heinrich didn’t.”
I think this is the first time that I’ve ever seen any firearm described by the press as “not-so-dangerous”, though it’s unclear whether the Santa Fe New Mexican used that phrasing of their own accord or whether that idiocy was spouted by the governor herself. Grisham’s on-the-record quote about not knowing how to define a so-called assault weapon, on the other hand, is actually a breath of fresh air… or at least it would be if her ignorance wasn’t being weaponized against a fundamental civil right.
Heinrich’s bill is certainly less complicated than other “assault weapon” legislation that relies primarily on cosmetic features and a long list of guns banned by make or model, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less violative of our Second Amendment rights. Heinrich’s bill would make it illegal to manufacture and sell any gas-operated centerfire rifle that can accept a detachable magazine, which would encompass almost every semi-automatic rifle on the market today.
It’s smart of Grisham to adopt Heinrich’s bill as her own, given that she couldn’t muscle a previous “assault weapon ban” through the legislature on her own. Adding Heinrich to the mix will put more pressure on the Democratic majority to fall in line, if not to support the governor then to back the state’s senior senator. With only 30 days in this year’s legislative session and other Democrats like Attorney General Raul Torrez pushing for measures like expanding the state’s “red flag” law, as well as a handful of Democratic state legislators who are hesitant or resistant to new initiatives targeting lawful gun owners instead of violent criminals, the passage of a state-level version of the GOSAFE Act (or any other gun control bill) is still far from guaranteed.
New Mexico gun owners better get ready for a fight, however. Grisham has shown no inclination to back down from her civil rights abuses, even when they’ve been called into question by the federal courts, and if she’s intent on enacting more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms regardless of what the Constitution or the courts have to say then 2A advocates need to stand up and speak out against those infringements during the brief legislative session. If she succeeds in getting this gun ban bill to her desk we can use the courts to shut it down, but it’s always better to defeat a bad bill than to overturn a bad law, and that should be the top priority for gun owners in the Land of Enchantment when the 30-day session kicks off on January 2nd.