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House Republicans seek to annul background check bill

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New Mexico House Republican leaders have begun an effort to overturn a controversial bill that would mandate background checks for nearly all gun sales that take place within the state.

House Majority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, and Minority Whip Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, sent a letter to New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver Thursday asking her office to prepare petitions as part of the process to annul Senate Bill 8, according to a press release from House Republicans.

The New Mexico Constitution allows people to “disapprove, suspend or annul” a law passed by the state Legislature.

“The response to this bill and others like it all around New Mexico is unprecedented, and we need to listen to the people,” said Townsend. “What is happening in Santa Fe does not reflect what an overwhelming number of New Mexicans want, so we’re going to make sure they are heard.”

Petitions will be circulated throughout the state. If the petition receives the signatures of 10 percent of New Mexico voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 election, the law will be placed on the ballot for approval or rejection by all voters in the next election, according to the press release.

Should 25 percent of New Mexico voters who cast a ballot in 2018 sign the petition within 90 days after the Legislature adjourns March 16, the law will be immediately suspended and go before the electorate to be approved or defeated by all New Mexico voters.

The letter states that though Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has not yet signed the bill, she has clearly expressed her intention to do so.

Senate Bill 8 has passed both legislative chambers.

The bill has generated controversy with 27 of 33 Sheriffs in New Mexico coming out against the legislation as written. The sheriffs and other critics have said the laws are unenforceable as written and would violate a person’s rights.

Lawmakers who supported the bill say the law is a common sense measure meant to make it harder for felons and others who shouldn’t have guns to obtain them.

Commissioners in 22 counties, including Chaves County, have passed resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties that will not enforce any laws that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.