New Mexico Senate approves ban on openly carrying firearms in Capitol

The New Mexico Senate has approved a bill that would make it illegal to carry firearms in the state Capitol building for everyone except police officers or those with concealed-carry permits.

Sponsored by Sens. Daniel Ivey-Soto and Bill Sharer, Senate Bill 337 passed Saturday on a bipartisan 29-12 vote. It will now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The legislation would make it a misdemeanor for  anyone but police to openly carry a gun in the Capitol, and would make it a fourth-degree felony to discharge a firearm in the building unless for self-defense or in defense of others.

NMPolitics.net reports the bill was put into motion due to some people carrying rifles to hearings in the Capitol, causing others to become fearful of attending legislative sessions.

“It’s very intimidating with guns being openly carried,” Sen. Majority Leader Peter Wirth said.

Sharer, who usually opposes gun restrictions, said, “It’s not fear of firearms that’s driving me. It’s so we can have reasonable debate in the Capitol.”

Opponents of the bill, such as Sen. Craig Brand, argued supporters were “trampling Second Amendment rights” in the name of First Amendment rights.

Earlier Saturday, the Senate also approved another gun control bill, Senate Bill 259, which would require an individual under a domestic violence restraining order to give up any firearms he or she owns and would prohibit that individual from purchasing guns while the order is in effect.

Individuals under restraining orders would have to deliver their guns to a third party that is not a prohibited possessor, and the bill prohibits them from delivering their guns to household members or close relatives.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joseph Cervantes, said, “A cooling-off period, where a judge can assure there is not a gun in the mix, will undoubtedly help save lives.”

The bill will also head to the House of Representatives.