Albuquerque councilor wants to give cities, counties power to regulate guns

Benjamin Wagner
Some of the guns seized in undercover operation are displayed at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Benjamin Wagner, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, announced the indictment of 8 men on a variety of firearm charges including the manufacturing and dealing in firearms without a license.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An Albuquerque city councilor wants state lawmakers to change New Mexico’s constitution so city and county governments can regulate guns locally.

Councilor Diane Gibson says the recent shooting deaths of Albuquerque police officer Daniel Webster and four-year-old Lilly Garcia had her looking at ways to strengthen city gun laws. She says things like an assault weapons ban or limiting where guns are allowed are changes she’d like to see discussed.

However, in 1986 voters changed the New Mexico constitution to severely limit local control over gun regulations. Article II, Section 6 reads, in part: No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.

“They were different times, that was nearly 30 years ago,” Gibson said. “I think it’s time that we had the discussion.”

Gibson has introduced a resolution calling on state lawmakers to give voters an opportunity to repeal that amendment. She says the “one size fits all” approach currently under state law is too restrictive.

The proposed change has some in the gun industry a bit worried.

“Obviously it’s not something we want to see,” said Will Hogsett, chief operating officer at Albuquerque-based gun store Calibers.

Hogsett says allowing cities and counties to impose their own gun rules would be onerous for gun owners and bad for business.

“As a business it makes it much more convoluted and it makes it much harder to actually do business when one city can do one thing and Santa Fe can do another,” Hogsett said.

In other states where local gun regulation is allowed, cities like New York and Chicago have significantly stricter gun laws on the books than you see in the rest of the state.

Gibson says she hasn’t “formally” spoken with lawmakers about carrying the constitutional amendment she’s seeking. Several Democratic lawmakers KRQE News 13 spoke to said they’d be supportive of the idea but none committed to carrying it. The political reality is that Republicans in the state House would likely block the amendment if it is introduced.

The resolution is expected to be heard at a city council committee meeting next week.

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