New Mexico has incredibly high rates of gun violence, including the highest rate of law enforcement shot and killed in the line of duty.
Not coincidentally, we have some of the country’s laxest gun laws—it’s easy for felons and domestic abusers to avoid background checks by buying guns on websites like armslist.com or at gun shows. States that close the background-check loophole see 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers shot and killed and 47 percent fewer women shot and killed by intimate partners.
Our legislator, Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard (herself a gun owner), has introduced a bill to the NM legislature requiring background checks for all gun sales.
Currently, federal law requires licensed firearm dealers—but not unlicensed sellers—to initiate a background check on people seeking a gun. Unlicensed sellers can inadvertently put guns into the hands of dangerous criminals, no questions asked. Garcia Richard’s bill would put a stop to that by requiring a background check for all firearm sales.
The bill would prohibit gun sales like the one to Davon Lymon, who reportedly bought a gun from a private citizen and allegedly used it to kill APD Officer Daniel Webster, in one of the most shocking crimes of 2015. Had Lymon undergone a background check, it would have revealed he was a convicted felon and blocked the purchase. Of course, no law will stop all crime, but they make us safer. Just because you can’t stop every crime doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take reasonable safety measures where you can.
New Mexicans know this. That’s why nearly 90% of New Mexicans, including the vast majority of gun owners, support background checks for all gun sales. Many New Mexicans have spoken in support of the policy, which has everything to do with protecting New Mexican lives and nothing to do with the Second Amendment. It’s a common sense bill, and we should all support it.