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House Republicans seek to overturn gun control laws

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House Republicans joined a majority of New Mexico’s sheriffs to begin the process of overturning a spate of gun control legislation recently passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature Thursday.

House Republicans announced they would begin the formal process to annul Senate Bill 8.
Under the New Mexico Constitution, the people have the power to “disapprove, suspend and annul” laws enacted by the Legislature.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says Republicans lawmakers are wasting their time with the attempt to call a statewide referendum.

Egolf responded Thursday, saying the referendum procedures do not apply to public safety measures and that the background-check bill is clearly designed to protect the public.

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

The number of required signatures is based on the voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 General Election.

If 10 percent of voters sign the petition, the law is placed on the ballot for approval or rejection of all voters.

If 25 percent of the voters sign the petition within 90 days after adjournment of the session, the law is immediately suspended and it is placed on the ballot for approval or rejection of all voters.

“The response to this bill and others like it all around New Mexico is unprecedented, and we need to listen to the people,” said House Republican Leader Rep. Jim Townsend (R-Artesia). “What is happening in Santa Fe does not reflect what an overwhelming number of New Mexicans want, so we’re going to make sure they are heard.”

Townsend sent a letter to the Secretary of State requesting the petitions for Senate Bill 8.

“New Mexicans in 25 counties have made it clear that they do not support restrictions on their 2nd Amendment rights,” said House Republican Whip Rod Montoya (R-Farmington). “Clearly Santa Fe is out of touch …This is not my 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.