AP NEWS

The Latest: New Mexico Senate backs gun background checks

February 14, 2019
Student advocates for new gun safety regulations meet with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after holding a protest in the state Capitol in Santa Fe, N.M., on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in anticipation of the anniversary Thursday of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The New Mexico House of Representatives was poised to vote on a bill that would make it easier to take guns away from people who may be suicidal or bent on violence. Lujan Grisham supports the measure. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on action in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

A bill that would expand background checks on private gun sales in New Mexico has cleared its last major hurdle with the approval of the state Senate.

The Senate voted 22-20 on Thursday to pass the Democrat-sponsored bill that would close a loophole that allows many private sales without a background check against a federal database of prohibited buyers.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has vowed to sign the legislation. The House and Senate have approved similar background-check bills and still must agree on one to send to the governor.

Background checks are part of a slate of gun regulation and school safety proposals making their way through the Democrat-led Legislature over the objections of Republican lawmakers and dozens of rural sheriffs.

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1:30 p.m.

A bill that would expand background checks to include most private gun sales in New Mexico is under deliberation in the state Senate.

The Senate on Thursday amended the bill to exempt sales between immediate family members including aunts, uncles and first cousins. Democratic Senate majority leader and bill sponsor Peter Wirth says background checks also would not apply when guns are inherited, loaned or given away.

Senate approval is the last major hurdle for the proposal to expand background checks to private gun sales arranged over the internet and at gun shows.

The state House has approved nearly identical legislation over opposition from Republicans and a handful of Democratic legislators. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging lawmakers to send the reforms to her desk.

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12:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is urging the state Senate to act on a bill that would expand background checks to all private gun sales.

The Democratic governor delivered a written message to the Senate on Thursday’s first anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

A shot was fired Thursday on the grounds of a high school in Rio Rancho, but police say no one was injured and a suspect was in custody.

Lujan Grisham says she respects 2nd Amendment rights and also “will not abide inaction when innocent lives are at stake.”

The Senate bill would close a loophole allowing private sales without checking a federal database of people with felony convictions and severe mental disorders.