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The Latest: Democrat says repeal not possible on gun law

March 8, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on gun control initiatives in New Mexico (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says Republicans lawmakers are wasting their time with an attempt to call a statewide referendum to overturn gun control legislation that would expand background checks to nearly all firearms.

Egolf responded Thursday to an announcement by top House Republicans that they will seek to overturn the background-check requirements under obscure provisions of the state Constitution by signature petition and then a statewide vote.

Egolf says the referendum procedures do not apply to public safety measures and that the background-check bill is clearly designed to protect the public. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has indicated she will sign the House- and Senate-approved bill to expand background checks to private, person-to-person gun sales with exceptions for transactions between relatives.

Egolf and other supporters of the bill say it is overwhelmingly popular among New Mexico residents, while House Republicans say just the opposite.

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5:20 p.m.

Leading Republican legislators say they will try and overturn a proposed law requiring background checks on nearly all gun sales in New Mexico through a voter referendum.

In a letter to state election regulators, House minority leader James Townsend and minority whip Rod Montoya said Thursday that a formal public challenge is being organized through obscure state procedures that can call a referendum by signature petition.

The background-check bill has been approved by the state House and Senate and is likely to be signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Townsend and Montoya say the bill infringes on the 2nd Amendment. They are joining with like-minded county sheriffs to collect signatures.

The petition process has lengthy requirements that include the collection of about 70,000 signatures from 25 counties.