House OKs gun-buyer background checks

Posted at: 02/13/2013 3:42 PM
Updated at: 02/13/2013 5:12 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4


Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives debated for two and a half hours Wednesday before passing a major gun control bill that will affect people buying guns at gun shows in New Mexico.

Buyers at gun shows, just like buyers at gun stores, would have to undergo a background check for felony convictions or a history of mental illness.

The bill originally included private citizen-to-citizen gun sales, but that was amended out of the bill in the committee process. Once it was gone, Gov. Susana Martinez announced she could support the bill, and that prompted some of her fellow Republicans in the House to vote for it, along with House Democrats.

The final vote was 43 to 26. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, a Democrat from Bernalillo County's South Valley.

"It shows that there is hope that this legislation might be able to be passed," said Paul Schmitt, who testified in support of the bill during committee hearings. "It shows bipartisanship, and that's a very refreshing thing in this day and age."

"It came out of the chute being such a bad, bad bill," said Rep. Nora Espinoza of Roswell, a gun rights crusader who voted against the bill. "They made so many amendments. What they needed to do is table the bill, House Bill 77, and put out a bill that has to do with mental illness - period."

The bill now goes to the state Senate. If it passes there, it's on to the Governor's desk.