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Governor Signs FourPublic Safety Bills

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Monday signed four bills lawmakers passed as part of her public safety priority for this year’s legislative session. Two were related to gun control and two others focused on keeping more people deemed dangerous off the street. While she called the new laws a “giant leap” in the right direction, she said she’s still considering calling a special legislative session to urge lawmakers to send a few more to her desk.

The governor signed the bills at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque, where a 14-year-old shot and killed another student just off campus in 2022. The governor told students in attendance that policy makers and school administrators need to come together to prevent gun violence.
“And demand that this isn’t how we want to live anymore,” she said. “So, we’re going to get upstream and prevent it. But, until we get there, you deserve our attention to make sure that you get everything you’re supposed to get out of school.”

She signed into law a 7-day waiting period for gun sales. Sponsor Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) called it a “cooling-off period,” meant to cut down on impulsive acts of gun violence.

Exceptions to the waiting period include those with concealed carry permits and federal firearms licenses, as well as law enforcement and sales between immediate family members.

The governor also signed legislation that bars carrying a gun within 100 feet of an election polling place. Exceptions apply to law enforcement and concealed carry permit holders here as well, along with people who aren’t conducting election-related business in the vicinity.

Additionally, she signed bills she said increase accountability for violent acts. One keeps people locked up when they are accused of a second felony while awaiting trial for a first until their original judge can weigh in. The other increases penalties for second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

“They need to be in a corrections system long enough to make sure that we stop this cycle of individuals committing these crimes,” she said.

However, according to a brief by the Vera Institute of Justice, higher rates of incarceration have only a “minimal impact” on reducing crime, and the relationship has gotten even weaker over time.

Despite the four new laws, the governor said she’ll continue fighting for more—maybe even before the lawmakers are set to reconvene next year.

“I’m still leaning on calling a special session,” she said.
If she did, she said her priority would be to resurrect two failed bills in particular. One would limit panhandling, criminalizing certain solicitations characterized as “aggressive.” The other would rework how a defendant is deemed competent to stand trial. If a person were evaluated to be both incompetent and dangerous, they would be ordered into behavioral health treatment.