SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today applauded Rep. Debra Sariñana and Rep. Elizabeth Thomson for introducing a measure to encourage the Federal Bureau of Investigation to notify New Mexico law enforcement when someone who is not allowed to have a gun tries to buy one.
When a person tries to buy a gun at a licensed gun dealer in New Mexico, that person fills out an application and the dealer then asks the FBI to run a background check using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. If the person is prohibited from having guns by state or federal law, the sale is denied.
A person who lies about their prohibited status on the application commits a federal crime, but that person often faces no consequences. The FBI investigates only a fraction of these individuals and does not notify New Mexico law enforcement that a person with a dangerous history – such as a felony or domestic violence conviction – has attempted to buy a gun within the state. House Joint Memorial 12 aims to give New Mexico law enforcement the information it needs to intervene before people with dangerous histories can arm themselves.
“Gun violence against families and law enforcement must be reduced with all stakeholders working together,” said Hector Balderas, New Mexico attorney general.
“Law enforcement faces ongoing issues with violence and criminal activity involving a firearm throughout our state,” said Michael J. Geier, Albuquerque chief of police. “I believe getting more information to the police about when a criminal tries to access guns will improve public safety in our communities. I truly support this memorial that will help remind us of the risks and senseless loss of human lives due to gun violence.”
“The most common reason for a failed background check is that the would-be gun buyer is a felon or domestic abuser, so it defies common sense that local New Mexico law enforcement are not notified when an unlawful purchase is attempted,” said Cheryl Haase, volunteer with the New Mexico Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The presence of a gun makes it five times more likely domestic violence will turn deadly, and giving law enforcement this crucial information will help save lives. I’m grateful Rep. Thomson and Rep. Sariñana are working to close this fatal gap.”
Recent experience in Washington State reveals the importance of this information. Last year, Washington enacted a law to notify law enforcement about illegal gun purchase attempts, and in just the first five months, more than one thousand purchase denials were reported to state law enforcement. That’s one thousand times a person who is not allowed to have guns tried to buy one and failed the background check. Without the reporting system called for in this memorial, New Mexico law enforcement will never learn about similar illegal purchase attempts in New Mexico.