Conservative Group Challenges New Mexico’s New Gun Laws

SANTA FE, N.M. (CN) – A conservative coalition in New Mexico filed a state lawsuit on Thursday challenging the constitutionality of new gun laws requiring background checks and requiring accused domestic abusers to surrender their guns.

The lawsuit claims Senate Bill 8, which requires a federal background check of purchasers in a gun sale, violates the Second Amendment because it interferes with private transactions.

According to the complaint filed in Curry County Friday, the New Mexico Patriots Advocacy Coalition also claims Senate Bill 328, which prohibits gun ownership by those convicted of crimes such as domestic battery or who have a restraining order, violates the right to due process.

The gun rights group circulated petitions aimed at repealing both laws, as well as eight other laws passed during the most recent legislative session. But the petitions were rejected for technical flaws and under a provision in the New Mexico Constitution which exempts laws related to public peace, health or safety from such referendums.

The lawsuit claims that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s and Attorney General Hector Balderas’ actions were “politically motivated” and “incorrectly and impermissibly deny New Mexico citizens their right under the New Mexico constitution ‘to disprove, suspend and annul any law enacted by the legislature.’”

“I am confident in my determination, made in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, that none of the draft referendum petitions submitted to my Office thus far have met the strict technical and legal requirements that are laid out in the New Mexico Constitution, state statute, and relevant case law,” Toulouse Oliver said in a written statement Friday. “I have undertaken careful and considered reviews of all referendum petitions submitted to my Office since the conclusion of the 2019 Legislative Session, though I have not yet been served with a lawsuit related to these matters.”

Matt Baca, senior counsel for the attorney general, told the Albuquerque Journal that the suit was “frivolous.”

“The Office of the Attorney General looks forward to the swift dismissal of this lawsuit,” Baca said.

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