Governor wants New Mexico legislators to debate new approach to regulating assault-style weapons


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico could become an early political testing ground for a proposal to make assault-style weapons less deadly.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday said she’ll encourage the state’s Democratic-led Legislature to consider statewide restrictions that mirror an unconventional proposal from U.S. senators aimed at reducing a shooter’s ability to fire off dozens of rounds a second and attach new magazines to keep firing.

The proposed federal Go Safe Act was named after the internal cycling of high-pressure gas in the firearms in question and comes from such senators as New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich, a Democrat. If approved, it would mean assault-style weapons would have permanently fixed magazines, limited to 10 rounds for rifles and 15 rounds for some heavy-format pistols.

“I’ve got a set of lawmakers that are more likely than not to have a fair debate about guns, gun violence, weapons of war and keeping New Mexicans safe than members of Congress are,” said Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, at a news conference in the state Capitol. “We will have to see how those votes all shake out.”

Bans on assault rifles in several states are under legal challenge after the U.S. Supreme Court in June broadly expanded gun rights in a 6-3 ruling by the conservative majority. The decision overturned a New York law restricting carrying guns in public and affected a half-dozen other states with similar laws. After the ruling, New York and other states have moved to pass new gun restrictions that comply with the decision.

Lujan Grisham recently suspended the right to carry guns at public parks and playgrounds in New Mexico’s largest metro area under an emergency public health order, first issued in response to a spate of shootings that included the death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium. The order sparked public protests among gun rights advocates and legal challenges in federal court that are still underway.

The restriction on carrying guns has been scaled back from the initial order in September that broadly suspended the right to carry guns in most public places, which the sheriff and Albuquerque’s police chief had refused to enforce.

New Mexico’s Legislature convenes in January for a 30-day session focused primarily on budget matters. Other bills can be heard at the discretion of the governor.

Lujan Grisham said her urgent approach to violent crime is spurring more arrests and reining in gunfire. Her effort has come amid new concerns about gun violence after a shooting Friday involving two 16-year-olds that left one of them dead outside a high school basketball game in Albuquerque.

The governor’s health order includes directives for gun buybacks, monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide, reports on gunshot victims at New Mexico hospitals and wastewater testing for illicit substances.

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