New Mexico has a gun death rate higher than the national average, and two-thirds of those deaths are suicides. The Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act being heard this legislative session is controversial. Opponents say this bill is a form of gun control and violates the U.S. Constitution, but its supporters say it's a necessary step in mental health care.
Sixty-eight percent of gun-related deaths in New Mexico are suicides, putting mental health and wellebing at the center of this contentious gun law debate. Democratic state Rep. Daymon Ely from Corrales said his firearm bill allows law enforcement or family members to seek a court order to hold someone's guns for up to a year. With this measure, there would be a hearing after the first two weeks, and the gun owner can request a termination hearing after that.
"This is all about suicide," Ely said. "It obviously is intended, also, to try and prevent these mass shootings. But that is much more difficult to determine. I think where it really impacts my constituents and their families is the risk of suicide."
This goal isn't to take a person's guns way, Ely said, but to reduce or eliminate harm someone might inflict on themselves or others and get poeple the help they need. He agrees with his opponents that rebuilding New Mexico's mental health care system is also a top priority, and he said he believes that these are the next steps if this bill is passed.
Last year, almost all the sheriffs departments across the state opposed a similar measure, saying it was unconstitutional and would not work.
This story is part of the project: Your N.M. Gov. Funding for our legislative coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the New Mexico Local News Fund and KUNM Listeners.