Hearing on gun control proposal delayed until Monday

Just hours before it began, New Mexico lawmakers postponed a last-minute weekend committee hearing for a potential gun control measure until Monday afternoon.

The state House Judiciary Committee will vet House Bill 548 — a “dummy bill” the National Rifle Association warns will be stuffed with language regulating guns — just one week before legislators adjourn.

Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, sponsored the bill Friday. Her original proposal, House Bill 50 — designed to require background checks for virtually all firearm transfers in the state — stalled in the committee last month. With just a week of session remaining, HB 548 could be Richard’s last chance to revive the measure, according to the NRA.

Richard told the Associated Press Friday she rewrote the proposal and thinks it “strikes the right balance between public safety and convenience.” The new language allows exceptions for transfers between family members, and between friends while hunting or participating in other shooting sports, the Associated Press reports.

The bill faces a tough battle against both the legislative clock and gun rights supporters — led by the NRA — who say the bill is nothing more than a backdoor attempt by out-of-state interests to expand a gun control agenda.

“We’re down to less than a week left in the 2017 legislative session and New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun cronies are pushing harder than ever for passage of any kind of gun control they can muster,” the association wrote Saturday.

“HB 548 is now what Bloomberg and his national gun control organizations are trying to force on the Land of Enchantment.  New Mexico gun owners and sportsmen must show that they won’t be fooled by any attempt to re-brand and re-write a gun control measure being pushed primarily by out-of-state interests,” the NRA added.

Bloomberg bankrolled a ballot referendum in Nevada last year expanding background checks to private sales. The measure passed by less than 10,000 votes, with critics deeming it virtually unenforceable due to a technicality in the language of the law. Nevada State Attorney General Adam Laxalt issued an opinion in December reiterating as much and has yet to set an implementation date.

While the measure squeaked by in Nevada, 52 percent of voters in Maine rejected Bloomberg’s near-identical ballot referendum last year.