With the New Mexico legislature's 2024 session set to gavel to a close at noon on Thursday, this is a make-or-break week for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's expansive gun control agenda. Yes, Grisham could still call lawmakers back to Santa Fe if they don't deliver the dirty dozen anti-gun bills that have been introduced this year to her desk by Thursday afternoon, but as the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association's Zach Fort tells Bearing Arms Cam & Co, so far the governor's been awfully quiet about the prospect of a special session.
For now, the goal of groups like the NMSSA is to keep the anti-gun measures that are still kicking around the Roundhouse from receiving votes on the floor, but Fort says there are two bills that appear likely to receive final votes before sine die on Thursday afternoon; a ban on concealed carry near polling places and a week-long waiting period on gun sales.
While the bills have progressed along party lines, Fort notes that both have been significantly watered down in the process, which is a sign that Grisham's anti-gun agenda may be meeting with more hostility from her fellow Democrats than they're willing to admit to publicly. The "gun-free zone" around polling places, for instance, now contains exemptions for voters to leave their carry guns locked in their vehicle while casting their ballot and for those "conducting business" near polling places. The waiting period bill, meanwhile, has been knocked down from 14 business days to seven days, with concealed carry licensees exempted from the waiting periods entirely.
Interestingly, while some Democrats were willing to give concealed carry holders a pass on the waiting periods, they balked at doing the same for victims of domestic violence.
The @NMSenateDems just rejected an amendment that would exempt a victim of domestic violence from having to wait 7 days to receive a firearm because it "might result in the homicide of a perpetrator of domestic violence"... #2a #nmpol #nmleg https://t.co/lAzk0FitO0— NM Shooting Sports Association (@NM_SSA) February 11, 2024
It's interesting to me that Democratic lawmakers exempted concealed carry holders from the waiting period provision, given that Grisham believes that we're so dangerous that she tried to prohibit concealed carry in the entirety of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County before a judge put the kibosh on her unconstitutional executive order. That may be the biggest sign that some Democrats in the legislature aren't on board with the governor's expansive anti-2A agenda, even though most of her hand-picked bills have at least made it out of committee.
That includes the bill that is arguably the top priority for both Grisham and her allies in the gun control lobby. HB 137 is the state-level version of the ban on gas-operated semi-automatic long guns introduced in the U.S. Senate by Angus King of Maine and New Mexico's own Martin Heinrich, and was given the green light by the House Judiciary Committee back on February 1st. Since then, though, the bill has been in a holding pattern on the House floor, and Fort believes the governor has still not secured the votes necessary for passage despite the Democratic majority in both the House and Senate.
Another bill that's been awaiting a vote on the floor of the House for several days now is HB 127, which would raise the age to purchase any firearm in the state from 18 to 21. Like Grisham's semi-auto ban, the bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote earlier this month, but has yet to be scheduled for a vote by the full House.
In order to get to Grisham's desk before the legislature adjourns, the House would have to approve the bills and then send them over to the Senate, where they would have to go through a committee markup process before the full Senate could consider them. Any changes along the way would force the bills back to the House for a concurrence vote before they could be sent to the governor. That process would ordinarily take days if not weeks, but as Fort says, the legislature can and has done all kinds of crazy things in the final hours of its sessions, so gun owners shouldn't let up on their contacts with lawmakers until this year's session formally comes to a close.
It would be a stunning rebuke to Grisham if her fellow Democrats fail to adopt her extensive list of infringements before Thursday, and I'm sure she and her staff will be twisting arms and sweet-talking lawmakers between now and then. A special session is still a possibility as well, but for now Fort says the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association is focused on what happens in the few remaining hours of this year's 30-day budget session, and he's encouraging Second Amendment advocates throughout the state to keep up the pressure on lawmakers to prevent Grisham's agenda from being enacted into law.