A video published on YouTube went viral as a man brought to New Mexico by the Air Force explains how it is legal for him to open carry in the New Mexico capitol in Santa Fe. He is approached by state law enforcement officers who follow him around on his tour. They agree with him that it is his right to carry in the capitol under the law, yet still feel the need to keep an eye on a guy with a loaded assault rifle and handgun. When you watch the video the police arrive past the 10:00 point:
KOB News has more:
“I’m a strong supporter of the second amendment. And I’m also a member of the NRA, but I tell you there’s many buildings that you should not be able to carry a firearm into and one of them is the state Capitol,” Republican Sen. Carroll Leavell said.
“Unquestionably, I think we need to ban guns from the state Capitol, and anywhere there’s large numbers of individuals that gather for a very specific purpose,” Democratic Sen. Carlos Cisneros said.
A bill to ban guns in the Roundhouse was actually introduced in the last legislative session, but it didn’t go anywhere. Bills expanding background checks for gun sales and banning assault-style weapons also failed.
Gun control bills were some of the most hotly contested issues of the session, leading to jam-packed meeting rooms. A majority of New Mexico’s sheriffs even went to the state Capitol to say they would not enforce a ban on assault style-weapons.
“I have got to say, that was an extremely amazing and educational time,” the man in the YouTube video said.
One thing is certain “martinrps13” or “Martin” is correct when he says that it is his right to carry the rifle in the capitol. He is protected by the state constitution. As long as he is being responsible he cannot be stopped. The state constitution says:
No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.
– Article 1. Sec 6. of NM State Constitution
Was this demonstration wise? Not really. There are things that are lawful and not wrong which just aren’t smart because they draw attention to issues that are a distraction. Gun rights are treasured by New Mexicans and making a point isn’t always the smart thing to do.
The senators interviewed and quoted by KOB are wrong in this instance. Our state requires uniform laws throughout the state in regard to gun rights: No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms. If you make a law that would only affect the city of Santa Fe (a bill to this end was proposed by the late Representative Easley last legislative session), it would be unconstitutional because of our state’s gun laws. And though New Mexico allows citizens to restrict the carrying of guns on their private property, the capitol is not private property and belongs to the people of New Mexico.
The comments of Sen. Cisneros and Sen. Leavell bring to mind the words attributed to Ben Franklin:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”