- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 1, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A national gun-safety group on Tuesday stepped up pressure in New Mexico against proposed U.S. firearms legislation that would make states recognize concealed handgun permits from other states.

With members of Congress returning home for August recess, Americans for Responsible Solutions warned that concealed carry reciprocity legislation would undermine New Mexico’s rigorous training and screening standards for people seeking to obtain licenses so they can carry concealed handguns.

Robin Lloyd, director of government affairs for Americans for Responsible Solutions, warned that as many as 25 other states do not meet New Mexico’s requirements for background checks and firearms safety training for people authorized to carry concealed weapons.

New Mexico could be forced to allow unverified people from other states to carry concealed guns in public places under the proposed legislation, according to a flier distributed by the group.

The National Rifle Association has said momentum is building for House and Senate bills that enshrine rights to carry concealed weapons across state lines, though current bills have yet to reach initial committee assignments for discussion

NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen emphasized that the legislation would leave in place federal prohibitions on gun possession based on felony convictions, fugitive status and other risk factors.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican in New Mexico’s delegation to Washington, is among more than 200 co-sponsors of the House reciprocity bill.

Greg Blair, a spokesman for Pearce’s campaign for state governor, said concerns about the bill undermining public safety were unfounded, noting that it defers to existing state laws about where concealed weapons can be carried.

New Mexico’s prohibits concealed handguns not only at standard locations such as schools, universities and courthouses but also on Native American lands unless authorized by tribal government and on private property with signs prohibiting people from carrying guns.

“Steve Pearce is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and believes that law-abiding Americans should be able to exercise their constitutional rights, both in New Mexico and elsewhere,” Blair said.

New Mexico is a so called “shall issue” concealed weapon permit state that is required to provide licenses to adults 21 or older who take firearms training courses and are not disqualified by felony convictions, adjudicated mental health issues or recent violations for drunk driving, domestic violence or drug possession.

The state currently recognizes concealed handgun licenses or permits from other states with similar requirements that contain expiration dates and can be verified by local law enforcement officials within three business days of a request, according to Americans for Responsible solutions.

Americans for Responsible Solutions was co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband after she was severely wounded in a 2011 attack in Arizona that killed six others.

Pearce was present at the congressional baseball practice in Washington in June where a gunman shot and wounded several people including House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Pearce was not hurt.

At the state legislative level, a long list of gun-safety bills failed to win approval in New Mexico this year, including a measure requiring federal background checks on nearly all private gun transactions.

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