New Mexico's governor threatens special legislative session

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

State legislators don’t pull in the kind of money that members of Congress make. In many places, it’s a part-time gig, where you work passing laws for a few weeks or months, then you go back to your regular life and regular work.


In New Mexico, for example, they don’t even get a salary. They get per diem that’s not more than many of us make on a daily basis.

So when a governor threatens a special session of the legislature, it could create financial hardship for lawmakers.

Going back to New Mexico, that’s what the governor there is threatening to do because gun control policies she supports are going nowhere.

One of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s key public safety initiatives may be in trouble, and she hinted the battle over such legislation may force a special session.

In her State of the State address, the governor called for legislative and public support to ban automatic weapons, saying they are tools of war that are flooding the streets and endangering both the public and police officers. But the tabling of one of two legislative initiatives to ban automatic weapons earlier this week puts the other’s fate into question — a point the governor acknowledged Tuesday during an interview at the Capitol.

“I wish I could say with a great deal of confidence that that one is going to move through,” Lujan Grisham said of House Bill 101 in an address to a crowd of mostly young people. “I think that one has the most difficulty (getting through).”

She suggested she would call a special session if need be to get some of the public safety measures moving forward.

“We may have to stay longer or do it again,” she said, adding just as lawmakers are likely to create an omnibus tax or education package, she could see a large-scale public safety package coming together.


Alright, so maybe this wasn’t intended to be any kind of a threat, but when I look at this, I can’t help but feel like she’s doing anything else.

First, automatic weapons are heavily restricted at the federal level. There have been no crimes I’m aware of that involved lawfully-owned full-auto weapons, so there’s absolutely no reason for any push on that front. Further, a ban on them isn’t needed. At most, New Mexico could enact a state-level law that essentially mirrored federal restrictions and penalties for any gun not lawfully owned in accordance with federal law. That would allow the state to prosecute violators without the feds being involved.

I don’t support that, mind you–I think you should be able to buy and operate an M-1 Abrams if your bank account could support it, personally–but it’s a far bit better than a ban.

HB 101, which is mentioned above, is not a ban on automatic weapons, but a more pedestrian assault weapon ban. However, let’s remember that California has all those laws and they saw two very high-profile mass shootings within a couple of days of one another. While I know I’m biased, I’m skeptical that it’s really that pressing of a thing.


Moreover, though, I’m troubled by this idea that a governor could or should just call a special session in an attempt to basically bully the legislature into adopting the policies they prefer. If the legislature doesn’t get it done in the designated period, then maybe there’s a reason for that.

Not that New Mexico’s anti-gun governor cares anything about that.

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