Man With Gun At Smith’s: Legal Details Matter

Los Alamos 

The other day, the Daily Post carried a short story about a man being reported to the police for having a gun in Smith’s (link). Although I’m pretty sure that even hate tatoos are protected by the First Amendment, and it turns out it was a pellet gun, its understandable that this gentleman raised suspicion but the bigger issue here is the law and there is state law that addresses this specific situation.

Thinking only of the supermarket part of the store, I was wondering what actually happened as the Daily Post story was short on details. New Mexico is an open carry state and in addition, we recognize a lot of other state’s concealed carry permit. (link). Hence every once in a while someone might be legally packing heat. But what visitors from other states (and some locals) might forget is that in New Mexico, there are restrictions on where a person can bring a gun and that includes bars. (link). As locals know, Smith’s contains a bar. What might be unclear is whether the state law regarding guns in bars applies to an entire supermarket or just its contained bar. Anyone know the answer?

For an establishment to comply with the legal posting requirements regarding prohibiting guns on the premises, a proprietor is supposed to post his or her establishment conspicuously (see note below**) with the required signage. I had occasionally looked, but not noticed signs on the main doors going into Smith’s.

In light of the Post story, I decided to look more carefully. Sure enough they were there yesterday, in the lower right hand glass panel next to the sliding door. Unfortunately, someone had put the decorative trash bins directly in front of the signs on both west facing doors. I mentioned to one of the cart collecting guys that those No Gun signs were both behind the decorative trash containers. He and I moved one trash box, the one closest to Trinity. I asked him to notify the manager. I don’t know if they moved the bin closest to Canyon Rim Trail. I didn’t check the Starbucks entrance.

**From the Dept of Public Safety web site: Unlawful carrying of a firearm in an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages consists of carrying a loaded or unloaded firearm on any premises licensed by the regulation and licensing department for the dispensing of alcoholic beverages except:  (1) by a law enforcement officer in the lawful discharge of the officer’s duties;
(2) by a law enforcement officer who is certified pursuant to the Law Enforcement Training Act [29-7-1 NMSA 1978] acting in accordance with the policies of the officer’s law enforcement agency; (3) by the owner, lessee, tenant or operator of the licensed premises or the owner’s, lessee’s, tenant’s or operator’s agents, including privately employed security personnel during the performance of their duties; (4) by a person carrying a concealed handgun who is in possession of a valid concealed handgun license for that gun pursuant to the Concealed Handgun Carry Act [29-19-1 NMSA 1978] on the premises of: (a) a licensed establishment that does not sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises; of (b) a restaurant licensed to sell only beer and wine that derives no less than sixty percent of its annual gross receipts from the sale of food for consumption on the premises, unless the restaurant has a sign posted, in a conspicuous location at each public entrance, prohibiting the carrying of firearms, or the person is verbally instructed by the owner or manager that the carrying of a firearm is not permitted in the restaurant; (5) by a person in that area of the licensed premises usually and primarily rented on a daily or short-term basis for sleeping or residential occupancy, including hotel or motel rooms; (6) by a person on that area of a licensed premises primarily used for vehicular traffic or parking; or (7) for the purpose of temporary display, provided that the firearm is: (a) made completely inoperative before it is carried onto the licensed premises and remains inoperative while it is on the licensed premises; and (b) under the control of the licensee or an agent of the licensee while the firearm is on the licensed premises.

B. Whoever commits unlawful carrying of a firearm in an establishment licensed to dispense
alcoholic beverages is guilty of a fourth degree felony.

But I could see now why I never noticed the signs, assuming they have been there all along. They were hard to see unless you are looking. Our Tattooed Man from Arizona may have missed them, too.

Outa towners might not know Smiths has a bar, so is there any way we can let local businesses know those signs have to be seen to be obeyed? Is anyone responsible for ensuring compliance? I think we would be wearing a community-size egg facial if someone were to be charged with a 4th degree felony over a poorly administered posting requirement.