This is good news. A notorious “loser revenge” law may be repealed in New Mexico. What, you say, is a “loser revenge” law? I’ll answer that, but a bit of history first.
Until a few years ago New Mexico had no provision for citizens to get permits to carry concealed firearms. Carrying a concealed firearm was against the law for everyone except police officers and federal agents. Breaking this law was a misdemeanor, though. Not that it mattered all that much, law-abiding citizens obey laws without regard to whether the penalty is stiff or light. But it is important to understand the definition of “loser revenge laws” that I will give below to remember that when it was illegal to carry a concealed firearm, the penalty for violating it was relatively light. Assuming no other violation an otherwise honest citizen could expect a fine and little more.
But then New Mexico joined the growing number of states that were adopting “shall issue” concealed firearm permit systems. Under a “shall issue” system a citizen who meets certain objective requirements which include a criminal background check and usually some form of training will be entitled to a permit to carry a concealed gun. There are always lists of places where the permit does not authorize the holder to carry his or her gun, however. This varies widely from state to state.
When a proposal to allow concealed firearms is presented in the legislature of a state that has not previously allowed it, the proponents and the opponents are hotly divided. The opponents are usually convinced that allowing citizens some method of obtaining permits would be just about the worst thing that could ever happen. So when the law passes, as it has in about 38 states so far, those who are opposed can be extremely bitter. They will often come back to the next legislative session not with repeal proposals but with some new restrictions on those who have taken advantage of the new law and obtained a CCW permit. Those restrictions can be draconian in nature. I call them “Loser Revenge Laws” because they have all the markings of a sore loser seeking revenge. They are advanced by people who are angry and out to get even, not to promote public safety and general welfare.
That is exactly what happened in New Mexico. First, the losers were successful in enacting a new law making it a FOURTH CLASS FELONY for a CCW holder to carry his or her concealed firearm into any establishment that sold alcohol. At first it included a convenience store that sold beer. It was not limited to establishments selling liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises. So if you stopped at the 7-11 for a loaf of bread on the way home and forgot to leave your gun in the car you had committed a felony. Had you been successfully prosecuted you would lose your right to possess firearms for the rest of your life. All this for doing something that was a minor misdemeanor before New Mexico adopted the new CCW law. See why I insert the term “revenge” in my description of these laws? This was not a law to address an important issue of governmental concern. It was an effort by some mighty pissed off politicians and bureaucrats aiming to “get even” with people they don’t like.
Fortunately, the law was soon changed to apply only to establishments selling liquor for consumption on the premises. And now it appears the law will be changed again to allow CCW holders to carry their guns into restaurants serving beer and wine.
The new law passed the New Mexico House by 53-13 and a similar bill has passed the Senate. When the two bills are reconciled it will go the Governor where I hope it will be signed into law. The vengeful ones are in the minority, where they belong.
None of this means a CCW holder can be alcohol impaired while in possession of a firearm. That is still against the law in New Mexico, as it is most other states. Maybe all other states. I would assume it to be so without any need to be sure of it. Responsible gun owners don’t drink when they are carrying, and statistics consistently show CCW holders as a group to be the most responsible of all citizens. Even though they don’t drink while carrying a firearm, they do eat and the best restaurants usually serve liquor. We who refuse to be a victim of a criminal attack should have as much right to a place at the table as anyone.