New Mexico governor signs bill that bans some guns at polls and extends waiting period to 7 days

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some guns will be banned at voting locations and the waiting period for purchasing firearms is being extended to seven days under measures signed into law Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The second-term Democrat was surrounded by city leaders and others inside a high school auditorium in Albuquerque when she signed four public safety measures that were passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature during the recent 30-day session.

“This legislation strikes at the heart of issues that are keeping New Mexicans up at night,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “We are losing far too many lives when guns get into the wrong hands and violent criminals are allowed to recommit again and again. This legislation addresses both.”

While supporters have argued that the efforts will address violence in the state, Lujan Grisham had acknowledged in the hours after the legislative session that she didn’t think it was “safe out there” and has floated the idea of calling lawmakers back to the Capitol to debate more public safety initiatives.

Her office did not immediately answer questions Monday about whether a special session was still being considered.

While the Legislature delivered on a handful of the governor’s major priorities, a long list of other gun control and public safety bills languished.

Lujan Grisham had declared a public health emergency over gun violence last year, suspending the right to carry guns in some parks and playgrounds in the greater Albuquerque area, in response to a spate of shootings there that killed children. The New Mexico Supreme Court is considering a petition that the governor overstepped her authority.

Republican lawmakers have argued that the governor wasn't addressing the true causes of violence, but rather seeking to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens.

“We should discuss and debate other measures that can help reduce crime while respecting our Second Amendment rights,” House Minority Leader Rep. Ryan Lane of Aztec said in a statement during the session. “These might include improving mental health services, bolstering community policing, bail reform, strengthening penalties for the criminal misuse of firearms, or enhancing gun safety education.”

Now, New Mexico’s waiting period for firearm purchases will be seven days — more than double the current three-day period required by the federal government for a background check. The law includes exemptions for concealed carry permit holders, federal firearms licensees, transactions between law enforcement officers, law enforcement agencies and immediate family members.

The other measure prohibits carrying firearms within 100 feet (30.48 meters) of polling places and ballot drop boxes. Exemptions are granted to law enforcement personnel and concealed carry permit holders.

The governor also signed bills that enhance penalties for second-degree murder-related offenses and give judges an extra opportunity to deny bail to defendants who are charged with new crimes while already awaiting trial on a felony.

The Associated Press