Letter To The Editor: Straight Scoop On HB50

Los Alamos

Dist. 43 Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos is up to those old tired political tricks again. In order to bolster support for HB50, Ms. Garcia Richard jumped at the opportunity to have her picture taken with a shooting victim and then imply her bill will solve all the world’s ills regarding gun violence.

The fact of the matter is there is nothing in HB50 that would’ve had any bearing on the (Former U.S. Rep. Gabby) Giffords’ shooting. The perpetrator, Jared Lee Laughner, purchased his gun legally at a Sportsman’s Warehouse and passed the FBI NICS screening the day before the incident. Then, after engaging his targets, he was subdued by two armed citizens and was held for police.

HB50 claims to close the dreaded “gun show and Internet sales loopholes”. The indisputable fact is neither of these loopholes exist. There is no gun show loophole and never was. There is no Internet loophole and never was. By federal law all firearms purchased through the mail are required to go through a FFL and the NICS system. Also by federal law all firearms purchased at gun shows from dealers are required to go through NICS system as well. This has always been the case. What these politicians call the “gun show loophole” is aimed squarely at private citizens exercising their right to transfer private property by sale, loan, or gift.

This bill exists for one reason and one reason only; to control the actions of private citizens and pull them into the realm of regulation currently existing for professional firearm dealers. Worse yet, this bill was not written by New Mexico legislators for New Mexicans. Ms. Garcia Richard is just a willing New Mexico minion working for Michael Bloomberg who is introducing this bill in legislatures nationwide through his Every Town for Gun Safety propaganda foundation.

At its inception the bill was submitted verbatim to Bloomberg’s Every Town legislation. While there have been numerous amendments trying to make it more palatable, the result is still Bloomberg attempting to use his billions to ram his New York style gun control down our throats in New Mexico.

As of today, all 33 sheriffs in New Mexico oppose this bill because it is unenforceable and likely to place otherwise law-abiding citizens in the situation of being trapped by a poorly written law.

Let’s look at a few of the facts regarding this bill that should cause you to call Ms. Garcia Richard and urge her to pull this bill:

  • Claim 1) HB50 would reduce the ability of felons to access firearms.
    • Fact: There is no factual basis for this claim. The Uniform crime report states that the vast majority of firearms used in crimes are either legally purchased, stolen, or obtained on the black market. The number of firearms obtained through the means described in HB50 is so infinitesimal that there are no records.
  • Claim 2) HB50 can be enforced using ATF documentation.
    • Fact: This law is not just hard to enforce, it’s virtually impossible to enforce. If a LEO wants to attempt to prove that a gun was transferred in violation of this law, they would have to prove that no FFL anywhere in the state had a 4473 with a record of the transaction. There is no electronic record keeping required, so the LEO may be asking the FFL to dig through 20 years of paper records. No court is going to sustain a conviction based on a search of records that was done by someone that is not in Law Enforcement. 
    • There are 825 FFLs in New Mexico. About 160,000 NICS checks in 2016, with this bill doubling the number of checks once private transfers are included. Do the math. 
    • For guns transferred to a New Mexico person before the effective date of this law, a legal person to person transfer could have occurred, and LEO’s can’t prove otherwise. 
  • Claim: New Mexico has the resources to and the will to enforce HB50.
    • Fact: New Mexico has 161,216 NICS checks in 2016. Assume the 1 percent denial rate at the national level is correct, that’s 1,612 denials in New Mexico. Assume my rate of false denials is applied to those (80 percent+), that leaves between 129 and 322 persons who should be criminally prosecuted. How many state prosecutions were initiated in New Mexico for this crime? As far as I can tell, zero. Federally less than 8 percent of denials are referred for prosecution, and only about 32/year are even accepted for possible prosecution at the federal level. 
    • So, the state is unwilling to prosecute prohibited persons for attempting to buy a firearm, but they are willing to make felons out of a guy who sells two rifles to his neighbor?
  • Claim: HB50 will help reduce the rising epidemic of gun violence/ suicide.
    • Fact: All violent crime is decreasing in New Mexico and the nation. Of the many dubious stats that were pulled out during testimony was, “states that prohibited personal firearms transfers saw a ~45 percent drop in gun crime rates”. While true, the nation as a whole saw a 60 percent drop in violent crime rates in the same ~1995 to present time period.
    • This type of legislation does not effect crime rates. 
  • Claim: HB50 will not be burdensome to law abiding gun owners.
    • Fact: The NICS check performed by the FFL will come at a cost. A salesman at a gun counter on a Saturday can sell 3-4 guns per hour. The person-to-person transfer takes twice as long for the paperwork, as the dealer has to log the firearms into a separate record keeping system, collect both the seller and buyer information (required by ATF regulations), and run the NICS check. If the check is delayed (very common) the buyer – and – seller have to reappear five days later at the FFL location to complete the transaction.
    • Every check the dealer does means he forfeits the ability to make 1-2 sales. For most FFL’s, that means the transfer fee needs to be in the $80-$150 range to compensate them for their time. Now let’s assume you are transferring these weapons for safe-keeping while you’re on vacation. You will have to go through this process again upon your return to transfer your own property back to you. I think you can see where this becomes not only burdensome but very costly indeed since you need to pay the fee for each weapon that was stored.

As you can see, HB50 is poorly written legislation that has the potential for catastrophic unintended consequences for law-abiding gun owners. If you agree, call the bill’s sponsor, Stephanie Garcia Richard, and let her know you oppose this ill-conceived legislation.