Yes, waiter, I’ll take the crow enchilada with green chile. No, make that Christmas. …
Miranda Viscoli of New Mexicans Against Gun Violence didn’t like a column I wrote in early January in which I, like some cut-rate Roundhouse Nostradamus, predicted likely doom for gun control legislation.
In an email, she basically told me that I was full of it. I shot back, “then prove me wrong.”
With the passage of Senate Bill 8 in the House last week, it looks like she did — with some help from other gun control advocates. And a majority of senators and House members.
So I’ve got some crow to eat.
In that January column, I wrote: “If legislators couldn’t pass a relatively mild gun control bill right after Sandy Hook — with some bipartisan support and a Republican governor at least nominally on board — I don’t see how they can do it now.”
I had assumed that the Senate, which, after a few years of being more liberal than the House, is back to being the more conservative chamber, would be the graveyard for any gun bills. That’s how it worked in the past.
And that’s what happened in 2013 in the wake of the slaughter of 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adults, by a crazed gunman at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The House — with some support from Republicans — passed a background check bill that then-Gov. Susana Martinez said she’d sign. But when it went to the Senate, the NRA and other gun-rights groups rose up. Though the bill made it to the Senate floor — on the last day of that session — Republicans filibustered and the bill died.
But now, while still more conservative than the House, Senate Democrats seem more willing to pass gun control bills.
They showed that Wednesday night when, following a lengthy debate, they passed Senate Bill 328, sponsored by Sen. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces. This would take guns from people under restraining orders for domestic abuse, stalking and other crimes. This bill, which passed 27-15, was amended nine times, and at this point I’m not sure whether some of those amendments seriously watered it down. It’s over in the House, which could remove some of the amendments. We’ll see, since by the time this is published it could all be over, one way or the other, for the bill.
I also assumed that gun safety was not a huge priority for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, mainly because I did not hear her talk much about guns during the campaign last year, and she didn’t mention the issue during her inauguration speech.
However, in her State of the State address, Lujan Grisham did call for “smart, effective gun violence prevention” measures, including a background checks bill. She pushed for it much more strongly than Martinez did in 2013.
SB 8 wasn’t the only gun bill I mentioned in that January column.
Here are the statuses of some of the others as of late last week:
House Bill 8, sponsored by Rep. Debra Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, basically is identical to SB 8. It passed the House 41-25.
HB 35, sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, had not been heard by any committee as of Thursday morning. It would require firearms licensees who buy a gun to request the state Department of Public Safety check to see whether the gun was stolen.
HB 40, also sponsored by Garcia, has not yet reached the House floor. It’s also related to gun show background checks.
HB 87, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, is similar to Cervantes’ bill dealing with domestic violence and firearm possession. It passed the House 37-28 and is working its way through Senate committees.
HB 105, sponsored by Albuquerque Republican Bill Rehm, would increase penalty enhancements for those convicted of crimes involving firearms. This bill has not gotten off the ground.
HB 130, which also deals with firearms crimes and penalties, is doing a little better than Rehm’s bill. But the measure, sponsored by Rep. Linda Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, still hasn’t made it to the House floor.
SB 201, titled the Firearm Transfer Act, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, is another background check bill. It’s still a long way from the Senate floor.
So as I promised Viscoli, here I am eating crow — and reminding myself that predicting the actions of the state Legislature is often a fool’s errand. Should have learned that years ago.
Umm … tastes like chicken …