'Gun Ban' Grisham Says She's Leaning Towards Special Session on Public Safety

AP Photo/Morgan Lee

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had an extensive list of gun control measures she wanted lawmakers to adopt during this year's 30-day budget session in Santa Fe, but most of her proposals ended up dying in committee rather than getting to her desk. Lujan Grisham was able to sign two watered-down gun bills; one imposing a seven-day waiting period on gun sales and another banning firearms around polling places, but the Democrat-controlled legislature specifically exempted concealed carry licensees from both of the new mandates. 

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While the governor still proclaimed victory, those bills a far cry from the extensive list of anti-gun legislation she was hoping to sign. As she announced in January, days ahead of the budget session: 

The governor’s public safety legislative priorities include (sponsors listed where applicable):

  • The Firearm Industry Accountability Act amends the state statue to allow gun manufacturers to be held liable for deceptive trade practices. Sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler.
  • Assault weapons ban lawfully regulates the manufacture, possession and sale of weapons of war, most often the gun used in mass casualty events. Sponsored by Rep. Andrea Romero.
  • Raising the age to purchase automatic firearms to 21 from the current minimum of 18 years of age. Sponsored by Rep. Reena Szczepanski.
  • Firearms purchase waiting period creates a protracted waiting period of 14 days between the initiation of a federal background check and a buyer taking possession of a firearm, thereby reducing the opportunity for gun violence and suicide. Sponsored by Rep. Andrea Romero.
  • Prohibiting guns in polling places makes it illegal to carry firearms within 100 feet of polling places during an election. Sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth.
  • Prohibiting guns in parks and playgrounds will make it illegal to carry a firearm in county or municipal parks, playgrounds, and their accompanying parking lots.
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When the 30-day session concluded Lujan Grisham hinted that she might call lawmakers back to Santa Fe for a special session to enact one or more of these proposals, and recently the governor told a reporter that a special session will likely take place in June. Interestingly, though, she's not talking up the prospect of passing any more gun laws if legislators return to Santa Fe. 

The Governor told NMPBS’s Lou DiVizio last week in an interview on the public affairs show New Mexico in Focus that she is working with committee chairs and other lawmakers on three to five bills for the special session, which would last less than a week.

One would restrict panhandling, which the U.S. Supreme Court cited as protected speech in 2015. She said the new bill would be constitutional because it would regulate the practice, not ban it.

“Like any other businesses, panhandling is a business,” she said. “There may be other constitutional regulations that you could place. So, you got to get a license – they would be free. [You] could do a background check. You could think about placements that maximize traffic safety, pedestrian safety, public safety.”

This kind of requirement would likely be difficult for many people experiencing homelessness to meet. A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office this year noted that many lack personal I.D.s and other important documents because they have no safe place to store them.

Among the other bills that the Governor is considering is a bill that would raise the penalty if someone has a firearm on them while committing a felony.

Two others would change how a person accused of a crime is deemed competent to stand trial and open the door to forced mental health and addiction treatment.

“If you're sick, and you're self medicating, you can't make those decisions. It has to be made by other individuals,” she said.

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I don't trust Michelle Lujan Grisham one bit, and until we see the actual list of bills that will be the topic of a special session gun owners in the Land of Enchantment shouldn't let down their guard. Still, it's pretty telling that Lujan Grisham isn't talking about bringing her ban on so-called assault weapons or her carry ban back before lawmakers. If there was an appetite in the legislature for those kinds of infringements, the governor would almost certainly have included them in her to-do list for the special session. 

Many of the governor's proposals passed one or more committees during the regular session but were never brought up for a vote on the House or Senate floor, which is another sign that there were enough rank-and-file Democrats to team up with the Republican minority to defeat the bills. Instead of seeing them rejected outright, Democratic leadership kept the bills in limbo until the session concluded. That allowed Grisham to save some face, as well as to continue lobbying legislators to adopt her anti-2A positions.  

It's far too early to celebrate, but it does appear that Lujan Grisham's anti-gun agenda still doesn't have the backing that she needs. I hope that remains the case, and New Mexico gun owners should still be urging their state senators and representatives to reject any new gun laws until the agenda for the special session is unveiled. 

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