By Carol A. Clark
As strange as it may seem, walking down Central Avenue carrying a loaded pistol in plain sight is perfectly legal. It only becomes illegal if the bearer holsters that gun beneath an overcoat or otherwise hides it from plain view.
New Mexico is an “Open Carry State,” meaning it is legal to carry a loaded weapon as long as it is not concealed.
At the same time, New Mexico law does allow a person to conceal a loaded firearm in his or her vehicle, including motorcycles and bicycles, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.
In New Mexico, a person’s car is considered an extension of their home and since there is no licensing restriction for a person to have a gun, loaded or unloaded, in their home, there is no licensing requirement to have a gun in their car.
But if that person is not licensed to carry concealed in this state or in a state that New Mexico recognizes, that person breaks the law in concealing that firearm on his or her person when exiting the vehicle.
Of course, guns and weapons of any kind are always prohibited in locations such as schools and federal buildings.
Los Alamos firearms instructor Mike Grimler works in security at Los Alamos National Laboratory and serves on the board of the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club.
He granted the Los Alamos Daily Post an interview regarding the Concealed Carry Law on the condition that his comments are from his perspective as a private citizen.
“There are 49 states that have some variety of Concealed Carry Law,” Grimler said. “The fact that they have CCW laws on their books is reflective, I think, of the fact that those citizens are aware of and want to exercise their Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The Second Amendment gained final ratification in 1791: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Grimler quoted Robert A. Heinlein saying, “An armed society is a polite society.”
He explained that varying perimeters associated with being licensed to carry a concealed weapon, including type of training required, background checks, demonstration of proficiency and more, exist within the 49 states that currently have CCW laws on the books.
“In New Mexico in 2000, a legislator was really pushing for a CCW law for this state,” he said. “So at the urging of the National Rifle Association and other organizations, a CCW law was introduced in 2003. After input from pro and con gunners, the law passed.”
Anti-CCW advocates sued, claiming the law was unconstitutional and the New Mexico Supreme Court agreed.
In 2005, new legislation passed amending that law. Anti-CCW advocates sued again, and again the case went before the state Supreme Court, which this time found it was not unconstitutional and therefor stands.
“That’s the law we’ve been operating under ever since,” Grimler said.
New Mexico maintains a vigorous vetting process through the Department of Public Safety that firearms instructors must pass.
Despite Grimler’s government clearances, his background was checked, he was fingerprinted, he had to release his mental health records and his certifications and those of his instructors were scrutinized. And Grimler’s course content was assessed to ensure it met all requirements as written in the law before he could become a certified firearms instructor in New Mexico, he said.
Grimler went through this invasive process in 2003. He is the first certified firearms instructor in Los Alamos and north of Albuquerque and 21st in New Mexico, which now has more than 400 CCW instructors, he said.
“I train the normal, every day citizen who feels the need to protect his or her self and family,” Grimler said.
Grimler served as a firearms instructor with the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department for 10 years, before moving to New Mexico.
His formal firearm training includes from Heckler and Koch:
- Certified MP5 Submachinegun Operator
- Certified MP5 Submachinegun Instructor
From the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):
- Certified Police Pistol and Shotgun Instructor
From the National Rifle Association (NRA):
- Certified Police Pistol and Shotgun Instructor
- Certified Pistol Instructor
- Certified Personal Protection Outside the Home Instructor
- Certified Personal Protection Inside the Home Instructor
- Certified Home Firearm Safety Instructor
From other training organizations:
- Gunsite Academy – Defensive Pistol Certification
Grimler explained that he goes above and beyond what is required by the state in his firearms training classes.
“It’s kind of like when a person’s met the minimum requirements to get a driver’s license, that doesn’t mean they are qualified to go out and drive a Lamborgini at 200 miles per hour,” he said.
New Mexico is called a “Shall Issue” state so unless DPS, the issuing party, can find a reason not to grant a person a CCW license, they “shall” issue the person a license, Grimler said. This differs from states such as California, which are called “May Issue” states in that they “may” decide whether to issue a person a permit.
“If they don’t like the way you come across in the interview, that’s enough reason to deny you a license,” Grimler said.”The anti-gunners in New Mexico and in most states with CCW laws were conviced that if those states were granted licenses – we’d revert back to the wildwest. It hasn’t happened, which proves overall that individuals who hold CCW licenses are upstanding, law abiding citizens who just want to protect themselves, their families and innocent victims, should the need ever arise.”
The philosophy behind the CCW law is that the bad guy out there looking for a mugging victim, Grimler said, and has to size up that potential victim to determine whether he or she is carrying a concealed weapon and well trained in deploying that weapon.
“It’s to put that seed of doubt into someone who wants to commit a crime,” he said.
Grimler will talk more about the Concealed Carry Weapon Law during an interview from 9-9:30 a.m., Wednesday May 30 on Safety and Security Matters broadcast live on KRSN AM1490. For information about Grimler’s firearm training classes, visit www.wyor.com
New Mexico Concealed Carry History
- The New Mexico legislature approves the first concealed carry law effective July 1, 2001
- DPS suspends implementation of concealed carry based on impending challenge to New Mexico Supreme Court that the “opt out” portion of the law for municipalities is unconstitutional
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules the first concealed carry law is indeed unconstitutional
- DPS suspension of training and instructor certification becomes permanent
- Second New Mexico CCW law is passed
- Each gun desired on CCW permit had to be qualified with. Some students are qualifying with 7 or 8 different guns
- Minimum age is 25
- License good for 2 years
- Cannot carry into any store selling liquor, including grocery stores and drug stores, such as Walgreens
- DPS announces first batch of approved NM CCW instructors
- DPS issues the first batch of Concealed Carry Licenses
- Second challenge of the concealed carry law is put before the NM Supreme Court based on NM Constitution language regarding “nothing herein”
- New Mexico Supreme Court throws out the challenge, agreeing with the State that it was legal for the legislature to pass the concealed carry law
- Second New Mexico concealed carry law goes into effect
- The age limit for license holders was lowered to 21 from 25
- Licenses valid for 4 years instead of 2
- License holders need to re-qualify on the range every 2 years (2-hour refresher training)
- License holders need to renew every 4 years and re-qualify on the range (4-hour renewal training)
- New application for renewal, $75 fee, new fingerprint cards, new releases, etc.
- They will be able to carry any weapon, of the same type (revolver, semi-auto, derringer), of the same or smaller caliber than that with which they qualified
- Most law enforcement officers, currently employed and retired will be able to obtain a license with departmental training instead of the private training required for all others, and also will be exempt from paying the application fee
- States with CCW permits recognized by New Mexico include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming (Utah is later repealed)
- CCW holders can now carry into stores selling liquor for OFFSITE consumption, e.g., OK to carry concealed into grocery stores, Walgreens, etc.
- New Mexico no longer recognizes the Utah concealed carry permit
- NM informally recognizes CCWs from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming
- New Mexico currently has a written reciprocity agreement in place with Texas; the status of this agreement will remain unchanged
- New Mexico concealed carry holders allowed to carry concealed into restaurants that serve only beer and wine