SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators from both political parties are rallying behind a gun control bill in New Mexico that would apply felony penalties to straw purchases of firearms, in which a weapon is bought legally in order to sell it to someone who can't lawfully possess a gun.
The state House of Representatives voted 62-3 on Friday to endorse the bill and move it to the Senate for consideration. The Legislature has until noon on March 18 to send bills to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
House Republican Minority Leader T. Ryan Lane of Aztec cosponsored the bill and highlighted support from several law enforcement agencies.
“We have a real problem with criminals obtaining firearms where they shouldn't be able to do that,” Lane told House colleagues.
Other cosponsors include Democratic state Rep. Raymundo Lara of Chamberino and Republican state Rep. Andrea Reeb.
Reeb, a former district attorney, is currently serving as a special prosecutor in the manslaughter case against actor Alec Baldwin in connection with the shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of a Western movie in October 2021. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty.
Reeb praised the bill for giving state prosecutors an important new tool.
The initiative would establish felony penalties for the unlawful purchase or transfer of a firearm for another person with sanctions of up to 18 months in prison. Guilt would hinge upon whether a person knowingly purchases or transfers a firearm by request.
Votes against the bill were cast by Republican state Reps. Stefani Lord of Sandia Park, John Block of Alamogordo and James Townsend of Artesia. Townsend is a member of the Republican Party's national committee.