Monday, January 28, 2013

House Judiciary Committee Kills Gun Background Checks Bill

Following a four-and-a-half hour debate Monday, a House committee effectively killed a proposed law that would require the state Department of Public Safety to perform background checks on people buying firearms at gun shows or in private transactions.

House Bill 77, sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque was introduced in response to last month’s shooting rampage at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Currently only those who buy weapons from licensed firearms dealers have to undergo background checks.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 8 to 8 to pass the bill. But because the bill wasn't backed by a majority, it failed. All Republicans on the committee plus Democratic Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan voted against the measure.

The bill was the first major controversial bill to be considered by this year's Legislature.

So many people showed up to attend the hearing, the committee meeting was moved from the regular committee room to the House Chambers.

Early in the hearing several people in the House gallery jeered Garcia when he mistakenly said that federal law requires  background checks only for people who buy handguns from licensed dealers. At least one person angrily yelled, "Lie!"

The committee chairman Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, threatened to have sergeants at arms remove anyone causing any further disturbance. No other such outbursts occurred.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican