New Mexico Background Check Law Closes Critical Loopholes

If Congress won’t act, states will have to take up the cause of gun control on their own, which is why New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham just signed a bill into law that will require background checks for nearly all gun sales. This law closes critical loopholes that made it possible for bad actors to buy guns, even though they really shouldn’t have been able to.

Now, if you buy a gun in New Mexico, you must complete a background check — regardless of whether it’s a private party sale, a gun show or a purchase from an authorized dealer. The only exceptions are for sales between law enforcement officers and close family members. If you sell a gun to your neighbor or someone you met on a swap meet site, a background check is required for a legal transfer. The law closes the gun show loophole, a gap in regulation that allowed people to buy guns at gun shows and similar events without needing to complete background checks.

Pro-gun forces often argue that background checks create an unreasonable barrier to gun ownership and that such laws abridge the right to bear arms. In fact, getting background checks is extremely easy, with almost 90 percent of New Mexico residents living within 10 miles of an authorized location. Think of it like registering the sale of a car with the Department of Motor Vehicles — something people are also required to do.

The requirements for who is allowed to own a gun in New Mexico are not changing. What is changing is the procedure around a sale to ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns can’t buy them. This is a really critical step in improving safety across the state while not interfering with lawful purchasing and maintenance of guns.

Background checks save lives. According to Every Town, mass shootings go down by over 50 percent in states with such laws, while suicides decline by 48 percent. Similarly, domestic violence deaths go down dramatically, too. The evidence supports the use of background checks as an incredibly valuable and effective tool for addressing gun violence.

This isn’t the only bill the lawmakers are considering for addressing the gun violence epidemic. They are also thinking about barring people with histories of domestic violence from purchasing guns — as well as including proper gun storage in child neglect laws, with the goal of reducing tragic accidents where children injure themselves or others while playing with poorly stored firearms.

Of course, this bill still has some loopholes. For example, guns could be traded between family members who perhaps shouldn’t be allowed to own guns — and likewise with law enforcement officers. It’s an important step for the state, though, and it will likely furnish more valuable data about the effects of gun control on gun violence.

But there’s another glaring problem: While New Mexico can pass all the gun regulations it likes, it cannot regulate neighboring states. It’s not uncommon to see guns flow from areas of less regulation to areas of more regulation — with criminals and those wanting to dodge regulatory oversight just crossing the border to get guns somewhere else. That’s a key reason why we need national codification of gun control laws. By making background checks the law of the land, for example, we can radically reduce the number of guns circulating where they shouldn’t be.

Photo credit: steverts/Getty Images

42 comments

Michael F
Michael Fabout a month ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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David C
David Cabout a month ago

thanks, good to hear

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Lorraine A
Lorraine Andersenabout a month ago

Glad to see it. Lets hope all states do the same. Thanks for sharing.

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Shae Lee
Shae Leeabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Julie D
Julie Dabout a month ago

Excellent, we need all states to follow their lead!

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Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago

Good news, but will someone sue and get it overturned?

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Louise A
Louise Aabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Debbi W
Debbi Wabout a month ago

Good for New Mexico!!!!!! Wish all the other states would do the same.

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Shirley S
Shirley Sabout a month ago

Well done New Mexico.

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Glennis W
Glennis Wabout a month ago

Good one Mexico Thank you fot caring and sharing

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