- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico lawmakers’ push this year to crack down on violent crime doesn’t include legislation that would strengthen laws to keep firearms from domestic abusers - despite recommendations from a state review team and a trend that has seen other states take such action.

FBI statistics based on data provided by local law enforcement agencies showed that between 2006 and 2014, there were at least 56 gun-related domestic homicides in New Mexico. There were nine deaths in 2009, the year with the most gun-related domestic homicides.

A recently released report from a committee tasked by lawmakers with reviewing the homicides has suggested passing a law that would prohibit gun possession by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and those accused of the offense and under a temporary restraining order.

Danielle Albright, the coordinator of the New Mexico Intimate Partner Violence Death Review Team, said a proposed law has been included in the group’s annual report sent to the governor and state lawmakers since at least 2009 and it essentially mirrors a federal statute.

“It is a recommendation that has been repeated pretty much every year,” Albright said. “It’s still a problem we feel people need to consider.”

Almost three-quarters of the domestic violence victims fatally shot in New Mexico during the review period were women, with figures showing 41 of the victims were either a girlfriend, wife or ex-girlfriend.

Twenty-three of the 56 gun-related domestic violence homicides were in Albuquerque. No other city in New Mexico had more than two such deaths in that time period.

In a report released last month, the review team examined domestic violence-related homicides and suicides in 2012, and found three shooters had prior convictions for misdemeanor domestic violence deaths. Six had a prior felony conviction, which means they were prohibited by law from possessing a gun.

“It happens all the time,” said Joan Shirley, a team member involved in the state report. “You look at these cases and someone makes a threat, and yet no one says, ‘Hey, they didn’t surrender their guns.’”

Shirley is also a victims’ advocate at the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death in Albuquerque.

Last year, state legislation sponsored by Sen. Pete Campos, a Las Vegas Democrat, would have prohibited New Mexicans with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from possessing firearms. The bill died in the Senate.

A similar measure was not proposed this year amid dozens of other pieces of anti-crime legislation - such as a three-strikes law for enhancing sentences for repeat offenders, and a constitutional amendment to reform the state’s bail bond system and allow judges to deny bail to dangerous defendants awaiting trial.

More than a dozen states have passed laws in recent years similar to the one proposed by Campos, mostly with bipartisan support, though opponents and some gun rights advocates say the state laws are repetitive of federal law and not needed.

“There are many bills,” Shirley said. “I don’t know that there just hasn’t been enough focus or attention to show the (New Mexico) Legislature this is an issue.

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