NM Representative Yvette Herrell, Chair: Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee
It’s the start of a new year in the New Mexico legislature and much has changed. For one, with this past election, the state House of Representatives finds itself with a Republican majority for the first time since 1953. At the same time, some things continue to repeat themselves. Once again, Miguel Garcia (D, Bernalillo County) has introduced his pet gun control bill, HB44, in spite of it being defeated last year. There are a few minor changes, but the substance of the bill remains basically the same: regulating firearms sales and transfers, creating greater government controls, increasing the possibility for misuse of federal database information and opening the door wider for an overall ability for the government to decide who merits being allowed to keep and bear arms and who doesn’t. Like most gun control legislation, it uses violent crime as its motivating factor while actually doing nothing to actually diminish violent crime or keeping guns out of the hands of either criminals or the mentally unstable. It simply focuses on putting greater burdens on law abiding gun owners; the ones who don’t commit most crimes. But this is nothing new. It’s the nature of gun laws. Their main focus is on curtailing, infringing and, ultimately, removing the right to keep and bear arms from the citizen under the guise of protecting our rights, but making us ‘safer’ at the same time.
So, here’s the good news about this bill: We now have a Republican majority in the State House as well as a Republican governor. The bad news: The Senate still has a Democrat majority and, sadly, we’ve seen that just because a legislator has an ‘R’ by their name doesn’t mean we can predict where they’ll stand on any particular issue. While it is the job of our senators and representatives to propose, debate and vote on legislation with consideration for their constituents, it’s our job as constituents to make our wishes known. We have a responsibility to call, to write, to show up and make our voices heard to those who represent us so they can effectively represent us. With that in mind, there are things we can do to support those in Santa Fe who are on the same page and get the attention of those who aren’t.
I had a chance to speak with Representative Yvette Herrell (R, Otero County) last Friday morning about HB44. With this new session, she has been named chair for the Regulatory & Public Affairs Committee, the first committee to discuss this bill. Herrell has scheduled a hearing on Saturday, February 7 at 1:30 pm in Room 307 of the State Capitol for anyone to have their say. She told me, “I wanted to do it on a weekend because I know it’s going to be a big bill that a lot of people want to come out for testimony and I want to make sure that whoever wants to be a part of that process has the opportunity and this way people at work will actually be allowed to come up and testify on behalf of the bill whether they support it or oppose it.”
If you’re wondering where she stands personally, she had this to say: “My position is I do not plan to support this bill for a couple of reasons. Number one, my constituents, they have been very vocal about their position and very few people in my distinct alone support it which I understand. My vote affects everybody in the state, but of the emails I’ve received, a far majority of them have been in opposition to it.”
Herrell put out a survey in her district a couple of years ago regarding this bill. “…they did not support it then and they don’t support it now.”
Far from simply opposing HR44, Representative Herrell also sees a more effective course of action to bring positive change to our current concerns about violence. “I think New Mexico would be better served if we would put a little more effort into looking into our behavioral health and counseling programs. I mean, we all understand that firearms are dangerous or can be dangerous but we also understand in this state that we are, I don’t think, addressing behavioral health issues and counseling issues the way that we need to.” She said, “We do already have in place some background checks for when you purchase a gun, but the thing of it is, people want to get their hands on a firearm, they’re probably not going to go through the process. I just think we’re missing the mark on where we’re focussing our energy.”
Herrell made it clear, though, that the committee will treat all speakers fairly. “But again, even with that being said, I do respect our process here. You know, this is the people’s House and I do want everybody that wants to have a voice in this process, [to] have that opportunity. And I can’t speak for the remainder of the members on this committee, so I don’t know, but I do think it’s important that folks that have a passion for this bill either way have the opportunity to come up and have their chance to speak to it and so that’s why we’ve moved it. Really, as it moves closer, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more email activity and we’ll see a lot more activity in the capital as we get closer to that seventh of February.”
While Representative Herrell and, I would suspect, the majority of the other Representatives on the committee may embrace fairness and a respect for all views, experience tells us that those sentiments won’t be shared by all speakers who turn out, especially those on the left. There’s already been drama brought to the Capitol this year from the hard left group, ProgressNow New Mexico in a hearing on right to work legislation. With gun control being another sore issue for liberals, it’s a pretty good bet that this group and possibly others will do whatever they can to gain an upper hand in this meeting, including resorting to being disruptive to the proceedings.
There is a sure way to make sure that your voice is heard on this. If you are able to make it up to Santa Fe on February 7, please do so. This is a perfect opportunity to express our desires to our elected officials and at the same time, present a positive image of ourselves in both word and deed of just who we really are. It’s good to remember that all the spin in the world does no good with those who get to see firsthand the difference in behavior between two very different types of people when they’re in the same room, addressing the same issue. What people see with their own eyes trumps all the false narrative in the world.
In the meantime, you can also contact the members of the Regulatory & Public Affairs Committee at:
Rep. Yvette Herrell
Rep. Bob Wooley
Rep. Deborah A. Armstrong
Rep. Nora Espinoza
Rep. D. Wonda Johnson
Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero
Rep. James E. Smith
Or, you can send a single automated email expressing your opposition to HR44 by going to the website:
The form on this site is simple, short and takes less than a minute to fill out and send on its way. So often, we complain about how our elected officials don’t do what we want them to. This is a situation where we can easily have an impact. Light up the phones. Load up the inboxes. Fill up the meeting rooms. There’s one thing I can guarantee you: If we stand up and speak out, we will be heard.
On February 7, after hearing from everyone who took the time to travel to Santa Fe, the Regulatory & Public Affairs Committee voted 4 to 3 to table the bill. HB44 is dead for another year. Thanks in large part to the citizens who took the time to call, email, text, fax and speak their minds in person, this attempt to infringe further on our 2nd Amendment rights has been thwarted again. Of, course, this story never ends. Expect this bill to pop back up next year. All the gun control side has to do is win once, so please don’t let your guard down and don’t ever underestimate the value of the individual to make a difference. It was individuals who made a huge difference on this.