On December 16, Representative Miguel Garcia, the sponsor of 2013’s HB 77, the Firearms Transfer Act, sent a letter to the Governor asking her to put HB 44, the renumbered version of the bill, on her call.
HB 77 enjoyed the support of many legislators in 2013, to the point where it passed two House Committees, the House and two Senate Committees before last minute amendments caused it to run out of time on the Senate floor. At the time, Governor Martinez had indicated that she would sign the law if it made it to her desk. A new version would likely enjoy the same, if not more support, given how many school shootings have occurred since Newtown.
Not only did the bill enjoy wide-ranging support in the Legislature, but it enjoyed (and continues to enjoy) the same level, if not greater, support by the public. During the 2013 Legislative session, over 3,000 petition signatures of New Mexicans who supported it were presented to the Legislature. And universal background checks still poll at 90 percent of Americans, a number that has held steady during the course of this year.
With Washington not likely to revisit their own bill any time soon, the issue of protecting our communities and children remains in New Mexico. Since the 2013 New Mexico Legislative Session closed alone, some 30,000 people have been killed by firearms in the US. True that this bill would not have prevented all of those deaths, but with an estimated 40 percent (6 million) guns currently being sold without a background check in the US right now, there is little means of ensuring that guns don't get into the wrong hands. Expanding background checks in New Mexico could go a long way towards keeping us all safer.
Representative Garcia is right to call for HB 77 to be reconsidered. The Governor should use her power to put HB 44 on her call and make sure that universal background checks are considered in this legislative session.