Posted at: 01/22/2013 6:35 PM
Updated at: 01/22/2013 6:36 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Last weekend's South Valley family massacre adds fuel to the fire that's already heating up the gun control issue in the state legislature.
There are three gun bills so far, but more are expected, and most of them will wind up on one man's table.
Rep. Eliseo Alcon, a Cibola County Democrat is the brand new chairman of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. He will see a lot of the gun bills this session, along with the four other members of his small but powerful committee. It is likely to be the first committee assignment for many gun bills introduced in the House, and any that should be passed and sent over from the Senate. They can kill bills, or keep them alive.
"I've got my own way of thinking of things," Rep. Alcon said Tuesday. "but as a committee chairman I've got to open that up to the whole public and see what's happening. It's not about me."
Republican representative Nora Espinoza of Roswell worries about her gun rights bill that would outlaw enforcement of federal firearms laws in New Mexico - will it get a fair hearing in Alcon's committee?"
"I don't know," Espinoza said Tuesday, acknowledging that the Griego family tragedy would have an emotional impact on lawmakers. "I've gotten emails after emails from all over the state supporting the Second Amendment rights. They're just going to have to be present when we go into committee. They're going to have to speak."
Ditto for Republican representative Zachary Cook of Ruidoso, sponsor of a bill that would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into bars. Does it have a chance now?
“I'm not completely tone deaf," Cook said outside the House chamber. "I think people's sensitivities are heightened after Newtown and Aurora and all of them, but I still think we need to protect the Second Amendment."
But - a surprise to many here at the Capitol - although Chairman Alcon is a staunch Democrat he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
"I'm a Vietnam vet," Alcon said. "Okay, I do not own a gun. I don't think I need one. But a number of people do a lot of hunting. They have a lot of fun with guns and I think they deserve to have their weapons."
Rep. Alcon told KOB Eyewitness News 4 he doesn't see the need for those big ammo clips for assault-style weapons, but as far as basic gun rights go - he's for them.