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The New Mexico legislature kicked off the 2024 session following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s State of the State address. At the top of her agenda, like the Biden administration, is punishing the firearm industry with unconstitutional gun control measures.
Gov. Lujan Grisham is vowing to go further than she did last year when she infamously made an emergency order denying Second Amendment rights in parts of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. She’s got a limited window, as the state’s legislative session is short.
New Year, Same Ideas
In 2023, Gov. Grisham revealed her “imperial ambitions.” She created a Constitutional crisis after publishing a 30-day emergency public health order banning the carrying of firearms in Bernalillo County on public property. The governor’s edict ordered the state’s Regulation and Licensing Division to conduct monthly inspections of licensed firearm retailers to ensure compliance with all sales and storage laws despite there being no New Mexico statute, nor any state regulations, granting the state authority over compliance or storage requirements.
National and state bipartisan backlash was swift, forcefully and roundly criticized the governor’s overreach. A judge placed a temporary restraining order on the concealed and public carry provisions of the public health order and Gov. Lujan Grisham was forced to recalibrate. She hasn’t learned.
During her State of the State address, she spoke out of both sides of her mouth.
“No responsible gun owner should be punished or prevented from exercising their rights – and no child should ever be put in danger by a weapon of war, especially one wielded by a person who can’t pass a background check, or can’t wait two weeks to get a firearm,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. She added, “Preventing gun violence is the most important work we’re going to do.”
Industry Attacks Ahead
The New Mexico legislature session this year is just 30 legislative days. In a short session like this, the legislative business must be focused on budget issues. That is, of course, unless you’re the governor who gets to add her own “related or germane” pet issues.
Her so-called “gun safety” wish list is long. She wants to ban commonly-owned Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), or “weapons of war” as the governor misleadingly calls them. NSSF released updated data showing there are over 28 million MSRs in circulation since 1990, used daily for lawful purposes. The governor also wants to impose a 14-day waiting period on all firearm purchases before the owner – who has passed an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification – can take their firearm home.
She also wants to enact age-based gun bans by raising the minimum age to purchase all firearms up to 21, meaning adults over 18 could no longer purchase shotguns or rifles. Gov. Lujan Grisham also wants to expand prohibited spaces where law-abiding and licensed gun owners could carry their firearms, to exclude public playgrounds and parks, as well as impose other restrictions. An additional 11 percent excise tax on all firearms, accessories and ammunition is on deck to feed a “gun violence victims reparation fund.” That’s a government imposed “sin tax” blaming the firearm industry for the criminal misuse of firearms that would only increase the cost to law-abiding gun purchasers, assuming the industry doesn’t abandon the New Mexico market entirely to avoid crushing liability.
All those restrictions are not followed by criminals who commit violent crimes.
Crushing the Firearm Industry
In addition to all of those restrictions, Gov. Lujan Grisham’s most consequential proposal would sound the death knell for the firearm industry in the Land of Enchantment. House Bill 114, introduced by New Mexico state Representative and House Judiciary Chair Christine Chandler, targets the already heavily-regulated firearm industry by opening the floodgates for potential litigation intended to make it impossible to remain in business in New Mexico.
HB 114 is the governor’s attempt to pass a firearm industry liability law that directly conflicts with the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which prevents frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry from the damages caused by the criminal acts of remote third parties. The New Mexico industry liability proposal would make it nearly impossible for firearm manufacturers or retailers to stay in business.
The governor’s anti-industry liability proposal creates the unique crime of “falsely advertising” a firearm product, which is not the same as “an unconscionable or unfair trade practice” that is already law in the state. This could be applied to an industry member claiming a firearm is effective for home defense, despite evidence of millions of incidents of annual defensive gun use and the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Heller that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep a firearm in one’s home for self-defense.
Additionally, HB 114 creates a “harming the public” civil violation applicable only to the firearms industry, establishes duplicative state requirements for practices and protocols that firearm industry members already have in place and authorizes the New Mexico Attorney General or a district attorney to bring an action against any member of the firearm industry by alleging violations (or potential violations) of these new, vague provisions of law. This includes allowing any person “likely to be harmed” by the actions of a firearm industry member to request equitable relief from a court.
If there were any doubts about whether Gov. Lujan Grisham was acting in bad faith to completely demolish the firearm industry, HB 114 puts them to rest and confirms beyond question her anti-Second Amendment goals.
With less than 30 legislative days remaining, the work on the governor’s gun control agenda has already begun. The firearm industry in New Mexico must stay vigilant and speak out against Gov. Lujan Grisham’s unconstitutional aims. Her proposals would not increase public safety and instead would only embolden criminals bent on ignoring laws from the get-go.