The state of New Mexico is taking measures to ensure that people who are domestic abusers will not be able to purchase guns, and will have to give up any existing guns they own in order to protect their accusers.
On Thursday of last week, the House of Representatives passed the measure in a 38-31 vote, sending it to the governor’s desk on Friday, according to the New Mexico Political Report. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wasted no time putting pen to paper to sign this first measure into law on Friday.
This new legislation, Senate Bill 328, means that no one who is under a protective order for domestic violence offenses will be allowed to own a weapon. The state already has laws that confiscate any weapons for people who have been convicted on domestic abuse charges, but this bill will extend that order to those who are under any kind of protective order for domestic violence.
Rep. Deborah Armstrong, a Democrat from Albuquerque, who was one of the three sponsors of the bill, has praised its passing as a victory for gun control advocates.
“I believe it will save lives. There’s a much higher likelihood of death by firearm in situations of domestic violence when a gun is available.”
Among those who opposed the bill, mostly Republicans, the argument was that it punishes people who have not yet been convicted of a crime. Usually, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty, but this will take away their property before that guilty verdict is even handed down.
In all fairness, passports are taken from people considered to be a flight risk before they stand trial as well, so it wouldn’t be the only instance in which such action is taken.
Other opposition to the bill stated that police officers who are sent to seize weapons could be at risk, which seems to confirm that they realize the domestic abusers’ accusers would definitely be at risk should weapons be kept in the household. Another argument was a lack of storage space to keep all the seized weapons in domestic violence cases, considering that 2017 saw over 7,000 reported domestic violence instances.
This bill will allow judges — much as in the case of defendants who might pose a flight risk — to make the final decision about whether or not the person in question would pose a threat to their partners should they be allowed to retain their firearms.
It’s not the first time this bill has been proposed, but it was shot down in 2017 by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.