We also know that gun laws work. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, in the last three years New Mexico has dramatically improved our gun laws under the leadership of Governor Lujan Grisham and the State Legislature: Background checks for all gun sales, an Extreme Risk law, and domestic violence protections are some of the ways our State is doing better. (For more on New Mexico go here.) Nevertheless, New Mexico has the seventh-highest rate of gun deaths in the country.
At the same time, because of an old NRA-promoted Constitutional measure, local governments can’t pass any gun laws that are more strict than those on the state’s books. In other words, Santa Fe has been pre-empted by the State when it comes to commonsense gun reform legislation.
Now, what do we do in Santa Fe?
- Demand action. Our message to the State on gun safety legislation: Lead, follow or get out of the way. If you won’t pass additional meaningful gun laws, then do away with the Constitutional prohibition against our taking action.
- Prohibit guns in City buildings and public spaces. We can pass legislation at the local level that keeps guns out of our buildings, parks and other City-owned or controlled spaces. Albuquerque has done it; I’ll be proposing that for Santa Fe.
- Provide gun locks and gun safes, free of charge. Too often a gun-related death is a result of a young person getting their hands on their parent’s gun. We’ll provide ways for moms and dads to keep guns out of their kids’ hands or keep them from being able to pull the trigger.
- Do gun buy-backs. We’ve done gun buy-backs in cooperation with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. We’ll do more.
- Go into the schools to teach gun violence prevention. The largest group of people who are killing other people with guns are between the ages of 18 and 24. We need to get to these young people while they’re in school, so they never pick up a gun in the first place.
- Promote mentorship, mental health, behavioral health, and alternate dispute resolution. How many of the young people who are killing other young people are simply lost? It’s up to us to identify them, connect with them, and offer them help and support.
- Implement Violence Intervention Programs. Guns, drugs, and gangs are a lethal combination. If we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that we’ve got all three here in Santa Fe. We need an ongoing, sustained program to intervene in the lives of young Santa Feans so they don’t fall into the gang life—and succumb to a gang death.
The last word goes to an NBA coach, Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors. Speaking before a playoff game, he said, “I’m not going to talk about basketball. We’re being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to put [HR 8] to a vote despite what we, the American people, want. I’ve had enough.” (Watch Coach Kerr here.)
We’ve all had enough. Now it’s time for us to act. It’s going to take all of us. So when the legislature takes up gun legislation, when the City or the County take up gun-related measures and violence prevention programs, we all need to be there and have our voices heard. Because what we’re doing now isn’t okay.