Snafu Leaves Hundreds of New Mexico Concealed Carry Licensees With Invalid Permits

AP Photo/David Goldman

More than 700 New Mexico residents with concealed carry licenses have been informed by the state's Department of Public Safety that their permits are invalid because their instructors had let their certifications lapse. Now the DPS wants those concealed carry holders to once again go through the 15 hours of mandated training before they can exercise their right to bear arms. 


As you can imagine, many of those impacted say they're being punished for someone else's screwup. Bob Clark, who shelled out $400 for his training course just a few months ago, says he shouldn't have sit through another 15 hours of training when he's already passed his test and received his license. 

Clark faulted DPS for failing to check the credentials before giving the instructors the green light to teach the concealed carry courses.

“The only people who didn’t screw up were us, the students who paid the money,” Clark said. “We’re the only ones who didn’t do something wrong, yet they’re putting the burden on us to correct it.”

Are their concealed carry licenses even legal? Clark said.

DPS’s Concealed Carry Unit didn’t address that issue in its recent letter to Clark. Asked whether the licenses were now invalid, a DPS spokesman didn’t directly answer the question when asked by the Journal last week.

“The applicants need to retake a course to meet the qualifications established in NMSA 1978, Sections 29-19-4 and 29-19-7,” DPS spokesman Herman Lovato replied in an email to the Journal. “DPS cannot advise students to carry concealed weapons without meeting the requirements established in law.”

Yet, the notification Clark received stated that “to maintain the active status of your concealed handgun carry license,” he must submit “a new certificate of completion for the handgun training course on or before 90 days.”

“Students who do not complete this training within the next 90 days will have their concealed handgun carry licenses suspended. However, please be advised that if your license is suspended after the 90-day grace period, you can always reapply, provided that you meet all the requirements ... including taking a training course from a department approved instructor.”

But in that case, the student will have to foot all the costs.


The DPS spokesman says the lapsed certifications were discovered during a "random audit" of every firearm instructor in the state, which sounds like an odd thing to happen randomly. Regardless of the circumstances, however, the state apparently never took proactive steps to alert consumers that these instructors didn't have active certifications. Clark says that he checked the DPS website before he took his class and found his instructor listed as approved to teach the course. 

"For quite some time, I had been considering going for a concealed carry license,” Clark told the Journal. “I thought it might not be a bad thing to do. But the thing that put me off all the time was that we had to take a three-day licensing course. Taking the course was discouraging me.”

But he enrolled and learned about gun safety, conflict resolution, legal issues and where concealed weapons can be carried in the community and where they can’t. There was testing at a firing range, where students were required to meet a certain minimum standard. Earlier, he said he checked with the state website to ensure his instructor was certified and DPS-approved.

He was dismayed to get the notification from DPS earlier this month and called the Concealed Carry Unit to say, “What’s going on? I don’t have three days to waste. And I’ve already been through it once.”

It seems to me that the simplest solution here would be to let those with active carry permits continue to carry, but failing that they should at least be able to undergo the range certification without having to sit through another fifteen hours of classroom instruction. Even though DPS says affected license holders can re-take the training free of charge, it's still a huge waste of time for folks like Clark. 


The state's screwup is another argument in favor of Constitutional Carry, though I know that's not going to pass the Democrat-controlled legislature or be signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who tried to suspend the right to carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County via an executive order last year. It's bad enough that the state mandates 15 hours of training before someone can exercise a fundamental civil right, but asking gun owners to shoulder the burden of the state's snafu is utterly ridiculous... and completely on-brand for the anti-gun governor's administration.  

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