- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A 12-year-old duck hunter joined Santa Fe’s police chief and about 100 gun safety advocates on Wednesday at a rally outside the Capitol in support of a proposal to require criminal background checks of more people who buy firearms at gun shows.

Backers of the measure want Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to add the gun proposal to the agenda of the Legislature’s 30-day session. They submitted about 4,000 petition signatures to the governor’s office.

Enrique Knell, a spokesman for the governor, said no decision has been made on the measure, although Martinez backed similar legislation last year. Lawmakers are restricted to considering the budget, taxes and other bills allowed by the governor.

The legislation would require background checks for firearms purchased from private sellers at gun shows. Federal law already provides for those checks for sales by licensed dealers in their stores and at gun shows.

Supporters said the measure could help reduce gun violence.

“I want to be safe. My friends want to be safe,” said Ulysses Yarbrough, a sixth-grader from Santa Fe who described himself as a “safe and responsible gun owner” who hunts ducks with his father.

Santa Fe Police Chief Ray Rael said the proposal wasn’t a gun control measure.

“I think this is more of a people control bill. It’s an effort to try to keep people who shouldn’t have guns away from guns and keep the guns out of their hands. I think it’s common sense,” Rael said.

Similar legislation passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate.

Opponents contend the proposed background checks won’t stop shootings such as one this month at a Roswell school where a seventh-grader fired a shotgun in a crowded gym, wounding a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.

“Our heart goes out to the families that are affected by these tragedies but knee-jerk reactions are not the way to do it, especially knee-jerk reactions that restrict folks’ constitutional rights,” Rep. Dennis Roch, a Logan Republican and school administrator, said in an interview.

He pointed out that legally purchased firearms were used in mass killings in 2012 at a Connecticut school and a movie theater shooting in Colorado.

It’s legal in New Mexico to openly carry loaded firearms in most public places, including the Capitol. However, Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat, said an effort will be made to change legislative rules to stop guns from being in the Capitol.


Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP



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