The only gun control bill left standing in the current 60-day legislative session passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee in a vote that came at 11:23 p.m. Thursday (March 14), with just a day and a half left in the 60-day legislative session.
House Bill 77, which requires background checks in an effort to close what gun control advocates call the gun show loophole, passed on a 6-4 vote, with all the Democrats on the committee voting yes and all Republicans voting no. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
“This is a good bill that we worked on with representatives on the other side of the aisle,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque.
Supporters and critics of HB77 waited well into the night to watch the proceedings and voice their opinions to the committee members who voted on the bill without debate.
The bill — which already passed through the House and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez indicated she’d sign – now has to beat the clock.
If the Senate (where Democrats hold a 25-17 lead) passes the bill in a floor vote, it would then have to go back to the House for concurrence because HB77 was amended slightly in an earlier Senate committee.
Concurrence can happen relatively quickly but there’s no guarantee as the Legislature will adjourn at noon on Saturday.
The only other gun control measures introduced this session were bills that would have restricted assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices in New Mexico and banned firearms in the Roundhouse — except for military, law enforcement and security.
But the assault weapons bill was tabled in a House committee with a Democrat casting the deciding vote; the firearms ban in the Capitol has gone nowhere.
As for HB77, it passed the House, 43-26, with a handful of Republicans supporting it. Gov. Martinez told reporters she would sign the bill if it made it to her desk in its current form because it establishes a procedure to align the state’s mental health and criminal conviction records with the federal instant background check system.