ActivePaper Archive Republican lawmakers joining N.M. gun fight - Hobbs News Sun, 3/8/2019

Republican lawmakers joining N.M. gun fight

SANTA FE — Republicans in the New Mexico House of Representatives have joined the majority of the state’s sheriffs in a fight against what they term “anti-2nd Amendment laws.” They intend to use provisions of the state constitution.

According to an announcement issued Thursday by the House Republicans, petitions to annul Senate Bill 8 will be circulated and filed, giving all New Mexico voters a chance to accept or reject the new legislation in the next general election.

With 29 of the state’s 33 sheriffs having signed a letter stating their concern that several gun control bills in the Legislature are unconstitutional, more than two-thirds of the counties, including Lea County, have declared themselves of “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” status.

“New Mexicans in 25 counties have made it clear that they do not support restrictions on their 2nd Amendment rights,” said House Republican Whip Rod Montoya, R-Farmington. “Clearly Santa Fe is out of touch … This is not my New Mexico.”

Under the New Mexico Constitution, the people have the power to “disapprove, suspend and annul” laws enacted by the Legislature. The process begins with a petition of New Mexico voters and requires several different actions depending on the number of signatures. The number of required signatures is based on the voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 General Election and actions to be taken include:

• If 10 percent of voters sign a petition, the law is placed on the ballot for approval or rejection of all voters.

• If 25 percent of the voters sign the petition within 90 days after the March 16 adjournment of the session, the law is immediately suspended and it is placed on the ballot for approval or rejection of all voters.

Senate Bill 8, requiring expanded background checks of gun purchasers, was the first gun control bill to pass both houses in the current Legislative session.

“The response to this bill and others like it all around New Mexico is unprecedented, and we need to listen to the people,” said House Republican Leader Rep. Jim Townsend, R-Artesia. “What is happening in Santa Fe does not reflect what an overwhelming number of New Mexicans want, so we’re going to make sure they are heard.”

Although the bill suffered a mishap late Monday when passing the House, having been introduced without an approved amendment, there is no doubt it will pass on a second round.

In a letter to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, dated Thursday, Townsend said the Republicans know Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has already said she will sign SB 8 when it arrives at her desk. He urged Oliver to prepare appropriate documents, as required by the constitution, because the Republicans will be circulating petitions.

Townsend quoted the New Mexico Constitution, Article IV Section 1:

“The people reserve the power to disapprove, suspend and annul any law enacted by the legislature, except general appropriation laws; laws providing for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety; for the payment of the public debt or interest thereon, or the creation or funding of the same, except as in this constitution otherwise provided; for the maintenance of the public schools or state institutions, and local or special laws.”