The momentum is picking up for legislation that would tighten background checks on gun sales, and it could be brought to the floor of the House this week. The compromise bill has some Republican lawmakers' and the governor's support.
Albuquerque Representative Miguel P. Garcia is the sponsor of the bill which mandates background checks at gun shows and removes the provision to have the Department of Public Safety handle the checks. Instead the onus would be placed on the gun seller to get approval of the sale.
"They will need to locate a federal firearm licensee at the gun show and do the sale through the FFL."
Garcia's original bill also called for background checks in private transactions, but the compromise measure deleted that requirement. How to keep guns away from mentally unstable people is also more clearly spelled out in the substitute bill. It mandates that the Administrative Office of the Courts report each case to the FBI:
"They're the ones that compile the data and have to provide current data to the FBI to the NIX database as that data is made available to them. They were doing that, but it wasn't codified, we didn't have it in statute, and that's what the governor wanted."
Governor Martinez underscored her approval of those changes to the bill on Monday:
"Certainly the important piece was to make sure that, um, the federal government when they do do a background check, that folks that have been declared mentally ill, um, through the court system is part of that information received to anyone who is selling a gun, and so that gun doesn't go to that individual or to anyone who has committed a felony."
Even though the governor supports the current version of the bill, Carlsbad Republican Representative Cathryn Brown - a Judiciary committee member - voted no, and declined to be interviewed on her position. Representative Garcia said since there is no longer a cost to the state for the gun show background checks, he hopes his compromise bill will bypass House Appropriations and be heard by the full House, perhaps as early as this week.