The Latest: Gun background check bill advances

February 26, 2019
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Democratic state Sen. Richard Martinez, right, of Espanola, stands for questions about a bill he sponsors that would expand background checks to nearly all private gun sales in New Mexico, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Santa Fe, N.M. The bill passed to clear its last major hurdle. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

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

4:40 p.m.

A proposal to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales in New Mexican is advancing as advocates and opponents clash in a final series committee hearings at the Legislature.

Republican Rep. Candy Ezzell of Roswell called into questioned the constitutionality of a Democrat-sponsored bill on Tuesday while brandishing printed copies of the U.S. and state constitutions.

A House panel endorsed legislative amendments that would exempt sales between family members and limit fees for background checks to $35. The House and Senate have approved nearly identical background check bills, with the Senate version now advancing toward final approval.

Senate bill sponsor Richard Martinez of Espanola says he is asking the state attorney general for an opinion on the bill and urged sheriffs who have protested the initiative to review their oaths to uphold state law.


4:00 p.m.

More than half of New Mexico’s 33 counties have adopted sanctuary resolutions that say they will not require local sheriffs to enforce a series of gun-control proposals sought by state lawmakers.

Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton said his county adopted a “sanctuary” resolution on Tuesday in opposition to proposed reforms that might infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms.

Legislators are considering bills designed to stem gun violence by expanding background checks to private firearms sales and removing guns from the hands of people who may be suicidal or bent on violence.

All but a few of the state’s county sheriffs are voicing opposition to those gun control initiatives. Top law enforcement officials in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces support background checks.

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