N.M. studying other states’ standards

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The requirements for getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon are being looked at

By Sue M. Holmes

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico is taking an in-depth look at what 18 other states require before someone gets a permit to carry a concealed weapon, to see if those states’ standards are as strict as New Mexico’s.

In April, New Mexico stopped recognizing Utah’s concealed carry licenses because that state’s requirements were significantly less than what New Mexico demands before someone is issued a permit.

That led to a study by Jim Plagens, deputy director of the Department of Public Safety’s Special Investigations Division, into whether other states do background checks, whether they require fingerprint cards, how much classroom instruction is required and what’s taught, whether states require students to fire a handgun, and whether they require U.S. citizenship.

His initial report, submitted last week, prompted the in-depth survey.

“As an example of the complexity, some states will require a class taught by a certified instructor or an NRA (National Rifle Association) class or a hunters’ safety class or proof you were honorably discharged from the service,” Plagens said. “That’s all fine except the last. You could have been discharged from the service 30 years ago. ... That just doesn’t meet our standards.”

States under review are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. New Mexico currently recognizes those licenses on an informal basis.

Officials intend to enter into written agreements with other states in the future to ensure compliance with New Mexico law.

State officials have said a written reciprocity agreement with Texas

will stand.

Plagens said his critical analysis will determine whether the 18 states meet New Mexico’s criteria, and if they don’t, where they fall short.

“New Mexico’s (law) is some very, very good legislation. It truly is,” he said.

New Mexico’s Concealed Handgun Carry Act and administrative code require at least 15 hours of instruction and proof of firearms competency by hitting a target no larger than 12 by 18 inches from 3 yards and 7 yards.

DPS spokesman Peter Olson said Monday that New Mexico has 17,461 current concealed handgun licenses.

The law allows New Mexico residents ages 21 and older to apply for four-year licenses after completing firearms training and passing national and local criminal background checks. Licenses cost $100.