- Associated Press - Friday, March 10, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Gun regulations in New Mexico may soon be rewritten in ways designed to avoid shootings in domestic violence disputes and to end free-wheeling firearm rules at the state Capitol.

Some bills that would place new restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms are inching their way through the Democratic-controlled Legislature as lawmakers near adjournment March 18.

Prospects for approval have dimmed for requiring background checks on private gun sales where no licensed dealers are involved, amid intense lobbying by gun-control advocacy groups and the firearms industry.

At the same time, some traditional political opponents of restrictions are embracing a bill that requires people to surrender their guns if a judge deems them to be a threat to a spouse or domestic partner.

Here are some things to know about pending gun legislation:

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DOMESTIC ABUSE

Attorney Hannah Shearer of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence says gun restrictions linked to domestic violence protect an especially vulnerable population: women who live with abusive partners who have guns.

The center counts New Mexico as one of seven states that have no laws on domestic violence and firearms.

The New Mexico Senate has approved a bill would ban the possession or purchase of firearms by people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence incidents. The bill would potentially affect thousands of people involved in domestic disputes.

State district courts issued nearly 3,600 judgments for permanent protection orders in 2015. It’s unclear how many of those involved gun owners.

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CAPITOL SECURITY

A Senate-approved bill would make it illegal for anyone but police officers and concealed-carry license holders to carry a gun in the Capitol.

New Mexico currently allows both concealed weapons and guns that are openly worn or carried in the Capitol, including on the floors of the Senate and House.

State police guard the Legislature but do not routinely screen people as they enter the building, and there are no metal detectors. The bill would not change that.

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BACKGROUND CHECKS

A Democrat-sponsored initiative that would ensure background checks against a federal database for most private gun sales has yet to make it to a floor vote after polarizing debates in packed committee hearings.

Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, has rewritten the bill and says it “strikes the right balance between public safety and convenience.”

It includes exceptions for weapons transferred between family members and in casual situations on hunting or sport-shooting outings.

Garcia Richard says she’s concerned about “stranger-to-stranger” sales arranged over the internet or on the sidelines of guns shows without a licensed dealer performing a background check.

Members of the New Mexico Sheriffs Association say the initiative would do little to prevent hardened criminals from getting guns on the black market. The National Rifle Association has urged its members to protest the proposal, saying it opens the door to broader restrictions.

Republican and some Democratic lawmakers have bristled at the involvement of out-of-state advocates for gun safety measures, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Americans for Responsible solutions.

Gun violence statistics have also weighed in the debate. Seven states had more firearm-related deaths per capita than New Mexico in 2014, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Other legislation would increase penalties for gun possession violations by people convicted previously of a violent felony.

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