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Kids Gun Bill Clears First Committee

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Kevin Meerschaert
The House Consumer and Public Affairs listens to discussion regarding HB-9.

A bill that would make it a crime to negligently allow children access to a gun has made it out of its first committee meeting on Tuesday.
KSFR’s Kevin Meerschaert reports.

H-B 9, better known as the Benny Hargrove Act, would make it a misdemeanor to negligently store a firearm that is then used by a minor who displays or brandishes the weapon in a threatening manner or causes injury to the minor or another person. 
Supporters say it is only aimed at gun owners who don’t take proper precautions to keep handguns out of the hands of children.    
The bill was first introduced last year after 13-year old Hargrove was shot and killed by another student at Albuquerque’s Washington Middle School.
The bill was tabled last year. The new version introduced by Rep. Pamelya Herndon has a few changes from last year including an exception for self-defense and using the word negligent instead of reckless.
Several law enforcement officials including State Attorney General Raul Torrez testified in front of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee urging they give the bill a Do Pass recommendation.

“I want to state unequivocally that this does not infringe in my judgment on any established case law that has been articulated by the United States Supreme Court,” he said. “There are reasonable regulations of firearms that have been maintained in federal case law and I believe that this bill has been carefully crafted to balance the needs and interests of gun owners and the broader public safety demands of the rest of society.”             

The committee gave the bill a Do Pass recommendation on a party line 4-2 vote.
Opponents say the bill is still too vague and focusing on proper gun safety education would bring better results.
The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.