Roswell shooting puts gun laws in spotlight

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School safety, gun control

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Tragedy in Roswell could mean talk in Santa Fe.

The Berrendo Middle School shooting comes a week before the 30-day 2014 legislative session kicks off. There’s already chatter on both sides of the aisle that the topic of guns and school safety in New Mexico, an issue that might have been otherwise ignored, could be a hot issue at the Roundhouse.

A year ago, the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., spurred lawmakers to introduce a slew of bills. One that had Gov. Susana Martinez’s backing would’ve required background checks at gun shows and strengthened reporting of mental health information to a federal database. That bill is expected to be reintroduced this session.

Another proposal would’ve banned assault weapons in New Mexico.

But there was also a less talked about idea that could get more play this session.

“I did think about the bill I proposed and [thought], ‘Could it have made a difference?’ ” said Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park.

Beffort’s bill, SB 230, would have allowed up to three employees at a school to carry a concealed weapon on school property. A district or school could decide whether to opt in or out. SB 230 died in committee, but Beffort’s considering trying again this session.

“This time, people might be rethinking it,” Beffort said. “It would just be potentially a deterrent to someone that might assume that there could be protection.”

There’s some early opposition to the idea from state teachers union AFT New Mexico.

AFT NM President Stephanie Ly tells News 13 that a different approach makes more sense.

“We need to make sure we’re starting to invest more in mental health services,” Ly said. “So we need to have school counselors in all our schools, social workers and school psychologists.”

Because 2014 is an election year, UNM political science professors Gabe Sanchez and Tim Krebs say it’s unlikely anything major will get passed.

“As for this session, I still think it would be unlikely,” Krebs said.

Sanchez says the issue could either hurt or help Gov. Martinez’s reelection bid, depending on her response.

“If she comes out aggressively on this issue and tries to do something in terms of trying to curb this, I think it could win her a lot of favor,” Sanchez said. “If not, she could look back on it as a missed opportunity.”

Another idea floated by some Roswell parents News 13 spoke to Tuesday was the idea of putting metal detectors at school entrances.

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