New Mexico's Gun-Grabbing Governor's Attacks on Concealed Carry Have Backfired

AP Photo/Morgan Lee

If Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had her way, nobody would be carrying a concealed firearm in Albuquerque. Thankfully, a federal judge squashed her attempt to rescind the right to carry through a public health order declaring "gun violence" an emergency in the city and surrounding Bernalillo County, and while her scaled-back order prohibiting lawful carry in playgrounds in the city and county remains in place, that too could soon be undone by the courts. 

Grisham continued her attacks on lawful gun owners during the 30 day budget session this year by proposing a number of new restrictions on gun owners, including a 14-business-day waiting period on firearm transfers, bans on concealed carry around polling locations, and prohibiting so-called assault weapons, to name a few. Her fellow Democrats in Santa Fe didn't go along with most of her plans, however. They cut her proposed waiting period in half, to seven days, and exempted concealed carry licensees from any waiting period at all. Legislators also adopted a ban on firearms around polling locations but once again exempted concealed carry holders. 

Neither bill is going to do anything to make New Mexico a safer place, but the new laws are expected to have an impact... just not the one that Grisham was hoping for. 

Tom Kaye, of the New Mexico Firearms Industry Association, sees a traffic jam ahead at local gun stores.

“Most people are unaware of this new law,” Kaye wrote in an email. “When they are told that if they had an NM concealed carry license they could take the firearm home the same day, it will generate much more demand for concealed carry classes.”

And that’s already beginning to happen, Kaye said. Although it’s not a tsunami, the increase is noticeable, he said.

ABQ Guns owner Arnie Gallegos said although he’s not been seeing increased traffic since the laws were passed, “we’re talking to a lot more people about concealed carry classes. A lot more people ask about them.”

Grisham decided to launch a political war on concealed carry, and this year's session may very well turn out to be her Waterloo. Instead of inhibiting the right to carry, the two gun control bills she signed offer gun owners two big incentives to obtain their carry license. 

That doesn't mean that the state's firearms industry actually supports either measure. The waiting period bill may lead to more concealed carry licensees, but it's also likely to cause headaches for many retailers. 

The new gun laws will also lead to confusion behind the counter at gun stores, according to gun association officials. Kaye said it will create more work for firearms retailers, many of whom are locally owned small businesses.

“Retailers will be required to add secure storage space to hold more than seven days worth of firearms sales,” he said. “Also, the administrative workload will increase as additional paperwork must be completed when the firearm is transferred on a different day from when the background check was submitted. Currently, 90% or more of firearms sales are transferred the day the background check is submitted.”

The new waiting period law also extends how long a seller has to wait on a federal background check. The current rule is that if the background check isn’t completed in three days, the sale can go through. New Mexico’s new law extended that wait to 20 days.

The state firearms industry association has created new information cards explaining the waiting period for gun purchases. On the back of the card is a list of 80 New Mexico lawmakers under the title: “State lawmakers who voted for the 7-day waiting period on firearm purchases.”

There've been some pretty strong hints that the new waiting period will be challenged in court once the law takes effect on May 15th, but FFLs can't count on a judge granting a TRO or preliminary injunction. They have to take steps now to be ready to deal with the law if it is enforced in six weeks or so, and part of that is warning customers of the changes that could be in store. 

My guess is that we'll not only see a surge in concealed carry applications in the months ahead, but a big uptick in gun purchases before the waiting period kicks in next month. Buyers who have to drive several hours to reach their nearest gun shop can avoid the hassle of making a repeat trip if they purchase their next gun ahead of that deadline, and I suspect that many rural residents will pull the trigger on their next purchase before they're subjected to this new infringement on their Second Amendment rights. 

Will anti-gunners acknowledge that Grisham's assault on the right to carry has backfired in a very big way? Not a chance. New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence's Miranda Viscoli is already claiming that the new laws are worth any increase in concealed carry licensees, while anti-gunners like Everytown's John Feinblatt are busy putting a positive spin on the fact that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed 30 gun control bills this session.

Yeah, he signed a bill that mirrors existing federal law on auto sears and one that gives prosecutors the power to charge a parent or guardian with a felony if they allow a minor access to a firearm "(i) after having received notice of a preliminary determination, pursuant to relevant law, that such child poses a threat of violence or physical harm to self or others or (ii) when such parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of the child knows or reasonably should know that such child has been charged with, either by warrant or petition, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent of a violent juvenile felony."

Neither bill was opposed by 2A groups like the Virginia Citizens Defense League, so this isn't the win that Feinblatt claims it to be. 

With gun controllers so desperate to spin bad news as a sign of victory, I doubt that any of them are going to admit that Grisham's attacks on the right to carry will lead to more New Mexicans carrying firearms in self-defense. They can't afford to acknowledge the unintended consequences of their anti-gun legislation, much less the fact that even with Democrats in complete control of New Mexico government they could only get a pair of watered-down bills across the finish line.