“Lock and load” is a common term among gun enthusiasts.

“Lock and secure” may be one they’ll have to get used to.

The Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee on Friday endorsed 4-2 a bill that would make failure to secure a firearm in New Mexico a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine.

Gun and Second Amendment advocates described Senate Bill 224 as an infringement on people’s rights.

“I do not believe that this is a proper bill,” said Patrick Brenner of the Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market think tank. “It seeks to mandate how an individual might otherwise store their own private property, and I think it is beyond the role of government to mandate how an individual take care of their own private property.”

A representative for the National Rifle Association and others argued it would be subject to a constitutional challenge, which the sponsor, Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said it would survive.

“This was very carefully constructed,” said Sedillo Lopez, a retired law professor. “I think it would withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Supporters of the measure, including several members of the New Mexico chapter of Moms Demand Action, which advocates against gun violence, said the legislation would save lives.

Pamela Weese Powell said her 26-year-old stepson died by suicide using a gun she owned that was in her closet “ignored and unsecured,” which for the rest of her life will haunt her.

“I hope that none of you are standing in my shoes next year testifying of losing a loved one to gun violence,” she said.

The bill would make it an offense for the owner of a firearm or authorized user “to store or keep a firearm in any premises unless the firearm is secured in a locked container or secured by a gun lock or other means so as to render the firearm inaccessible or unusable” by anyone else.

A violation would be a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. The fine would be up to $1,000 if “a minor, an at-risk person or a prohibited person” used the firearm to commit a crime or to injure themselves or others.

Sen. Bill Tallman, also an Albuquerque Democrat, questioned how the law would be enforced.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only time it will be enforced is if something bad would happen to someone who got ahold of a gun and we did an investigation and they found out that this gun had not been properly secured,” he said. “Obviously, law enforcement is not going to be able to go into people’s homes to see if they’re properly securing their gun.”

Sedillo Lopez said that was “absolutely right” and that the only way a fine would be issued if is “something horrible happens.”

Though Sedillo Lopez said the bill had been “carefully constructed,” she pulled a provision at the start of Friday’s committee hearing stating an “authorized user” had to be at least 12 years old to be able to learn to shoot.

“At first, I thought it was a misinterpretation of the bill saying that it criminalized teaching children to shoot,” she said. “I have an amendment to simply strike that entirely.”

Sedillo Lopez said the intent of the bill is education.

“The more important thing about this bill is that all of the gun safety training courses will include it as a standard in New Mexico,” she said. “When you’re teaching gun safety, one of the responsibilities is to teach what the gun laws are, so secure storage will be included in all of the curriculum within all of the gun training courses around the state. That’s the importance.”

The legislation will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee next.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter


(13) comments

Kirk Holmes

Not to worry. At the rate the state's law makers are going, you gun owners will soon not have anything to worry about re: storage laws - they will be taking your guns away - period.

Mike Johnson

Sedillo-Lopez again, the left wing radical that said this about firefighters......“Some of this overtime is for eating and sleeping and just hanging out.".....what an idiot.....https://www.kob.com/.../state-sen-antoinette.../6016277/

Khal Spencer

There is a bit of academic literature on this stuff. I sent some links to Sen. Sedillo Lopez and to Daniel Chacon. One example:

Epidemiologic Reviews

Effectiveness of Interventions to Promote Safe Firearm Storage Ali Rowhani-Rahbar*, Joseph A. Simonetti, and Frederick P. Rivara* Correspondence to Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Box 357236, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Washington,Seattle, WA 98195 (e-mail: rowhani@uw.edu).Accepted for publication July 27, 2015.


Despite supportive evidence for an association between safe firearm storage and lower risk of firearm injury, theeffectiveness of interventions that promote such practices remains unclear. Guided by the Preferred ReportingItems for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist, we conducted asystematic review of ran-domized and quasi-experimental controlled studies of safe firearm storage interventions using a prespecifiedsearch of 9 electronic databases with no restrictions on language, year, or location from inception through May27, 2015. Study selection and data extraction were independently performed by 2 investigators. The Cochrane Col-laboration’s domain-specific tool for assessing risk of bias was used to evaluate the quality of included studies.Seven clinic- and community-based studies published in 2000–2012 using counseling with or without safety deviceprovision met the inclusion criteria. All 3 studies that provided a safety device significantly improved firearm storagepractices, while 3 of 4 studies that provided no safety device failed to show an effect. Heterogeneity of studies pre-cluded conducting a meta-analysis. We discuss methodological considerations, gaps in the literature, and recom-mendations for conducting future studies. Although additional studies are needed, the totality of evidence suggeststhat counseling augmented by device provision can effectively encourage individuals to store their firearms safely.

Jerrie Eaton

This law will have no effect on anything and is all after the fact. In my home I will decide how things are stored not some corrupt politician taking Bloomberg money funneled through the fanatical Bloomberg cultist Miranda Viscoli to push the Bloomberg agenda.

Khal Spencer

When I worked with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, they were independent of Moms and Everytown. I don't know what the current situation is but NMTPGV is a home grown organization. I give Miranda credit even though we are often not on the same page, even though I think we are in the same book.

wesley scott

This seems less about passing decent legislation and more about money and sticking it to gun owners. They even admit it's impossible to enforce until "something horrible happens". I feel bad for the lady that lost her 26 year old son but according to this legislation it would of only served to add a 500$ fine to her sons death. Also I think a 26 year old can surpass a lock or buy a gun or if they really want to kill themselves their gonna find a way. How about talking about mental health care? Instead we'll just slap a poor tax on gun owners. Smh

Khal Spencer

What I wish Mr. Chacon would write about is:

Who actually wrote the bill?

Who reviewed it or provided input?

Were any firearms, hunting, or sporting organizations consulted? For example, it was an egregious omission to miss that the original Section F conflicted with the minimum hunting age in NM of 8-9 years old for hunting small game if the child takes and passes a hunter safety class and is supervised by a NM certified hunter safety mentor.


Also, as someone pointed out, it is kinda difficult to shoot a frame or receiver if a gun has been disassembled. As someone pointed out, do you become a lawbreaker if halfway through stripping and cleaning a firearm, you have to take a leak?

Seems like some stuff fell through the cracks, likely because not all impacted parties had a hand in the bill crafting. Since Sen. Sedillo-Lopez said this bill was carefully written, I find the lack of critical review by all interested parties rather surprising.

Mike Johnson


Mike Johnson

Sedillo-Lopez is corrupt, and special interests are pulling the strings here. This will not survive constitutional challenges which will come in a NY minute if this egregious law is passed. NM better reserve lots of money to fight this to SCOTUS.

Khal Spencer

Actually, the NM Constitution might be a better test, since it states very clearly that we have a right to possess a functional firearm for defending ourselves. So the firearm has to be accessible in a crisis and capable of expelling those little projectiles. It differs from the DC law that was overturned in Heller as that bill effectively meant you couldn't have a functional gun available; this bill would not preclude a person from having a functional firearm for self defense, just that it be securely stored or "in arm's reach" . If I were more comfortable with biometric safes, that would be a good idea except for those times when the batteries die, power goes out, your hands are sweaty, etc., etc.

We'll see on this. As my wife said a little while ago, "what good is a law if it only comes into play after a catastrophe?" There is little in this bill towards ensuring the safe behavior implicit in this bill is disseminated effectively to all those with guns in their homes.

A good literature search on Ali Rowhani-Rahbar + safe firear storage would be homework for this discussion.

Finally, Heller let stand traditional gun control. At some point this Court is gonna have to define what is traditional and what is out in deep left field. I look forward to the Supremes taking a case or three and clearing this up.

Meanwhile, folks should not leave functional smokepoles lying around or sitting in closets where time forgot them. I feel bad for the lady who testified that her son killed himself, but if you have guns in the house, its your responsibility to store them safely. You live there, the government does not.

Khal Spencer

"....differs from the DC law that was overturned in Heller as that law...."

not bill!

Mike Johnson

You have a big problem with the NM Supreme Court over an issue like this. They are biased, partisan, incapable of impartiality in political issues, and rubber stamp anything the left wing, like Sedillo-Lopez, want. However, SCOTUS will easily overturn this.

Khal Spencer

I listened to a lot of the hearing and Sedilla-Lopez constantly backtracked on the difference between the wording and the reality. I think when you write a bill, it ought to say what it means and mean what it says. This obviously did not happen.

I sent an email (appended in its entirely below) suggesting some changes but didn't even get the dignity of a reply from the Dems on the committee. Fortunately, at least Section F was removed. But I guess I need to write checks as big as those likely provided by Michael Bloomberg.


1. I understand the need to keep firearms out of the hands of the prohibited or at-risk persons mentioned in Section B and to reduce the prevalence of firearms theft which diverts firearms to crime, gangs, or other undesirable destinations. That said, I would amend the bill to say that if none of the prohibited or at risk persons mentioned in Section B are in a household, it is sufficient for a firearm to not be locked up if the owner or other authorized person is at the household and can control the weapon in a reasonable and prudent fashion. If children or other at risk or prohibited persons are in a household, the more stringent rule should apply.

2. I wonder where you got the age of 12 for a minor. Is that justified somewhere? I recall being taught to shoot at about age ten and when I was president of the Hawaii Bicycling League and we taught on-road bicycling to fourth graders (age circa 10) the assumption was the kids had enough judgement to share the road with motorists. Seems we should either leave the age to the parents or say why you chose 12.

3. One of the big problems is that we can pass a law that folks either ignore or not be aware of, or we can combine laws with strong educational programs. Nowhere do I see an effort to engage groups like AFFIRM to help teach gun safety (or any effort to assist in providing the gun safety training you stipulate for minors) or to provide tax benefits or rebates to those who purchase a gun safe. Why not?

I would pause on this and discuss the issue with responsible gun owners.

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