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New Mexico firearm owners speak on proposed gun regulation

A Smith & Wesson Model 57 revolver chambered in .41 magnum.
Jonny Coker
A Smith & Wesson Model 57 revolver chambered in .41 magnum.

This year during the New Mexico Legislative session, multiple bills have been put forth regarding firearm-related legislation. The laws range from requiring gun owners to keep guns stored in a manner that would keep them away from children, to a complete ban on the possession of most semi-automatic firearms.

Dan Parrott is the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association District 10 Director. He said that the responsibility of storing a firearm properly should rest on the gun owner, not the government.

“I agree that firearms should be stored safely to where children and minors can not get to them. By the same token though, it’s up to the homeowner and the gun owners to be responsible and take care of their firearms and handle them, and store them in a safe manner that is accessible only to them. And if they are needed for a house intrusion or some other assault on your person, they should be readily available,” he said.

New Mexico firearm enthusiasts speak on proposed gun regulation

In terms of other legislation currently in the roundhouse, Parrott said that while they may mean well, he does not believe that the laws would lead to meaningful change in the right direction.

“In general, I think all the gun laws that are being proposed this year are not necessarily good gun laws. They infringe on people’s rights, it infringes on common sense and safety as to how to handle the guns. From the standpoint of having to wait 14 days to buy a firearm. If a lady is threatened by her boyfriend or an ex-boyfriend, she has to wait 14 days to get a firearm that might help save her life or save an assault on her. Again, it gets back to common sense,” he said.

Parrott said that the biggest issue with current gun legislation, specifically the bills that would ban semi-automatic weapons and magazines over 10 rounds, is that it would only punish law-abiding citizens if passed.

“The one thing that I would emphasize is it seems like what we’re doing with these laws [is that] we’re making felons out of law-abiding citizens at this point in time. We’ve went to training, we’ve got concealed carry licenses, we’ve paid our state tax for those licenses. Yet the state legislature turns around and takes those rights away from law-abiding citizens, but there does not seem to be any mandatory punishment or increase in punishment for the criminals that violate the laws that are on the books already,” he said.

A holographic electronic sight on top of a semiautomatic rife.
Jonny Coker
A holographic electronic sight on top of a semiautomatic rife.

Bill Butler is the Executive Vice President of a nonprofit organization called Friends of the La Luz Range (FOLLR) and a United States Army Veteran. He said that he’s also in favor of responsible gun ownership, but believes that legislators writing the laws should be familiar with firearms before crafting legislation.

“If you’re going to be making rules, or talking about how to administer some project or process, you best be able to explain what that process is, and have a little bit of understanding about it,” he said. “We have enough laws on the books right now, that if they were enforced, there would be a considerable lessening of violence. Gun violence, knife violence, club violence, you name it.”

Butler argued that no matter how many laws are passed, criminals will be able to obtain a gun.

“They may legislate until they turn blue in the face. But my suggestion is, just because there’s a law doesn’t mean something might not be done to circumvent that law, or to change that law, or to go around that law," he said. "If the opportunity is available, someone will get what they want and do what they want with [it.]”

Bill Butler holding an AR (ArmaLite Rifle) platform semiautomatic firearm
Jonny Coker
Bill Butler holding an AR (ArmaLite Rifle) platform semiautomatic firearm.

While lawmakers in Santa Fe continue to discuss firearm regulation, Butler said that the constitutional right of New Mexicans to own firearms is not something that should even be up for debate.

Proposed firearm legislation:
House Bill 9: Prohibits negligently allowing children access to a firearm.
House Bill 50: Prohibits possession or transfer of ten-round magazines.
House Bill 72: Prohibits possession or transfer of a semiautomatic firearm converter.
House Bill 100: Requires sellers to enact a 14-day waiting period for the sale of firearms.
House Bill 101: Would make it a felony to possess most semi-auto firearms and magazines larger than 10 rounds.
House Bill 306: Prohibits the unlawful purchase of a firearm for another individual.
Senate Bill 44: Prohibits possession of a firearm within 100 feet of a polling place during an election.
Senate Bill 114: Prohibits unlicensed carry of a firearm in restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages.
Senate Bill 116: Establishes a minimum age of 21 to purchase or possess a semiautomatic firearm.
Senate Bill 427: Prohibits the sale of a firearm without a background check or before a 14-day waiting period.

Related story: Local officials weigh in on proposed firearm legislation

Jonny Coker is a Multimedia Journalist for KRWG Public Media. He has lived in Southern New Mexico for most of his life, growing up in the small Village of Cloudcroft, and earning a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at New Mexico State University.