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Don’t impose New York-style gun control laws here

February 5, 2019

Gun control advocates are once again pushing a package of unpopular gun control bills in our state Legislature. And once again, each bill comes from the gun control wish list of New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has been trying to impose his New York-style gun control scheme on New Mexico for years. Like a lot of Second Amendment supporters in our state, I am sick and tired of big money lobbyists trying to push us around. I urge our lawmakers to put an end to this Bloomberg nonsense. Nothing in any of these bills would make New Mexicans any safer. Bloomberg’s proposals are ineffective, intrusive and unnecessary.

Bloomberg’s wish list includes a so-called universal background check bill similar to the one New Mexico lawmakers rejected in 2017. The proposal would effectively ban all private firearms sales between law-abiding citizens. Under so-called universal background checks, honest, hardworking New Mexicans would be forced to pay undetermined fees and obtain government approval before selling a firearm to family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers, or fellow hunters, competitive shooters and gun club members. Supporters falsely claim they are targeting gun shows and online transactions. But studies by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that fewer than 1 percent of guns used in crimes are acquired at gun shows. Firearms purchased online already require delivery to a licensed dealer in the buyer’s home state for background checks.

Also on Bloomberg’s wish list is red flag or extreme-risk protection order legislation. This measure would allow law enforcement agents to confiscate firearms and ammunition from law-abiding individuals. Under this proposal, a person’s ex-spouse, jilted suitor or angry neighbor could make unfounded, uncorroborated and unchallenged statements against an innocent gun owner, costing them their gun rights. No one should lose the fundamental right to protect themselves without a formal hearing before a court at which they can defend themselves.

These red flag bills have encountered opposition in other states because they lack appropriate due process procedures, among other significant problems. The Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU expressed concern about “the breadth of this legislation, its impact on civil liberties, and the precedent it sets for the use of coercive measures against individuals not because they are alleged to have committed any crime, but because somebody believes they might, someday, commit one.”

Bloomberg lobbyists also are pushing for a measure that would make it harder for law-abiding parents to protect their families. While so-called child-access protection laws are well-intended, they would allow the government to come into your home and tell you exactly how to store your guns. Like every gun owner I know, I store mine in a way that no unauthorized person has access to them. What works for me might not work for everyone.

New Mexico already has a law on the books to hold adults accountable for putting children at risk in this way or any other manner. Under current law, it is a felony for a responsible person to knowingly, intentionally or negligently place a child in a situation that may endanger the child’s life or health. The tools exist to charge and prosecute parents or guardians in appropriate cases.

I urge our lawmakers in Santa Fe to again reject Bloomberg’s New York-style gun control scheme. Instead, our lawmakers should tackle the much tougher issues facing our state: reforming our revolving-door criminal justice system and fixing the root causes that put our young people at risk.

Barbara Rumpel first visited New Mexico in 2010, when she fell in love with the state’s beauty, shooting sports and the NRA Whittington Center in Raton. Rumpel now lives in Raton.

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