House OKs gun-buyer background checks

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By Barry Massey
The Associated Press
SANTA FE— New Mexico lawmakers waded into the national debate over gun violence Wednesday as the House approved legislation to require criminal background checks of more people who buy firearms at gun shows.
If the measure becomes law, which is far from certain, New Mexico will join at least six other states in having background checks for all firearms purchased at gun shows from private sellers, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Federal law requires those checks for sales by licensed dealers in their stores or at gun shows, but it doesn’t cover private gun sales regardless of the location of the transaction.
Supporters of the legislation said it was a step in trying to reduce gun violence.
“Something needs to get done. We are at a point now where we are seeing these horrible things. And if this bill helps address the problems and I believe it will in a very significant way, then I am willing to support it,” said Rep. Nate Gentry, an Albuquerque Republican.
The measure cleared the House on a 43-26 vote, with eight Republicans joining 35 Democrats in support. Only three Democrats opposed the bill. The proposal goes to the Senate, which tends to be more conservative than the House.
GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, who is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, has said she would sign the legislation if it remains unchanged.
Opponents said more background checks won’t stop shootings and killings or prevent criminals from obtaining guns. They pointed out that legally purchased firearms were used in recent mass killings, including at a Connecticut school in December and last year’s Colorado movie theater shooting.