SANTA FE – House Bill 77 the “Firearms Transfer Act” has passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 43 to 26.
HB 77 requires anyone who sells a firearm at a Gun Show to conduct a background check. It also includes a component for submitting mental health adjudication information to the FBI.
HB 77 survived an attempted amendment by Rep. Bill Rehm to change the reporting requirements. Debate on the floor lasted almost two hours.
It began with the support of Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Bernalillo-30) who helped to draft the mental health component. He said, “If this bill helps address the problem, and I believe it will in a very significant way, then I want to support it.”
Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Doña Ana-33) argued, “All we are trying to say is, there are reasons to keep certain people from owning firearms—good reasons. Let’s put in that little extra effort to stop folks who might want to use this process at Gun Shows to be able to get guns illegally because they have some problems in their past.”
Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe-47) said, “Let’s focus on the people who will not be murdered when we do this. That is the important thing we are talking about. That is why I am so gratified this is a bi-partisan effort. That is why I appreciate the effort of Rep. Garcia in focusing the attention of this legislature on a critical public safety issue that will have real results and save people’s lives right away.”
Rep. Miguel Garcia who sponsored HB77 says New Mexico is a model experiment to the whole country. He says, “The licensed dealers get 65 percent of the background checks. With this piece of legislation we’re capturing another 25 percent. Eighty-five percent of the market in terms of doing background checks is a big step forward in achieving the ultimate which is 100 percent. But for this session and for this time in history, we compromise.”
HB77 makes the following changes:
- Requires operators of gun shows to arrange for the presence of an Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) at the show and to post notice to traders that transfers must be conducted through an FFL;
- Identifies antique or relic firearms as the only exemption from the requirements of the act;
- Sets a misdemeanor penalty for violation of the act by transferors who do not use a FFL at a gun show; and a petty misdemeanor penalty for gun show operators who fail to provide an FFL or fails to post information about the FFL requirements;
- Grants immunity for FFLs unless FFL knows or reasonably should know that the transferee is likely to commit an unlawful act involving a firearm; or knows the transferee intends to deliver it to a strawman;
- Requires Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to collect mental health adjudication information and submit it to the FBI for entry into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); provides procedures for restoring rights; requires confidentiality and sealing of records; provides immunity for transmitters of information; provides a right to inspect and correct records; authorizes AOC to promulgate rules; and
- Following these procedures would make NM eligible for NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) funding. That program addresses the gap in the NICS data base regarding mental health histories.
HB 77 now moves to the Senate for consideration.