Gun makers, sellers could be sued under bill headed to House floor

By: - January 26, 2024 5:54 pm

The House Chamber inside the Roundhouse on Jan. 10, 2024. (Photo by Anna Padilla for Source NM)

A proposal to allow people harmed by gun violence to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable in civil court is headed for a full vote by the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 along party lines Friday afternoon in favor of House Bill 114, which if passed into law would create the Firearm Industry Accountability Act. The proposal is one of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public safety priorities this session.

People opposing the bill at the committee included owners and employees of a shooting range company, lobbyists for gun manufacturers, and representatives of the New Mexico Business Coalition and the National Rifle Association.

Mark Abramson, an attorney and owner of Los Ranchos Gun Shop, and Tara Mica, an NRA lobbyist, both said the bill duplicates federal law already prohibiting “straw purchases,” where someone buys a gun on behalf of someone else who could not legally buy one on their own. So did Rep. William Rehm (R-Albuquerque).

But HB 114 is not a criminal statute, Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos) clarified to the committee.

“It’s a civil statute that creates the ability to bring a claim if you’re the person damaged, or you’re the Attorney General,” she said.

The bill passed through the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on Jan. 23, also along party lines.

Once the House adopts the Judiciary Committee’s approval, the bill will go on the list of bills scheduled for final passage.

To become law, it would still need to go through the entire process again in the Senate, and then get signed by the governor.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.