Lawmakers anticipate only one arrest per year for unsecured firearm violations
The Bernie Hargrove Act, criminalizing unsecured firearms in your own home, is headed to the governor’s desk.
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The bill, (HB9) was named after the 13-year-old Albuquerque student who was shot and killed in 2021 after confronting a bully at school. Juan Saucedo Jr. allegedly took his father’s gun to school on the day of the murder (and the previous day), according to reports. The alleged shooter’s father, Juan Saucedo Sr., had previously been “banned from Highland High School after he shot and injured another parent during a fight in the student pick-up lane in 2018,” according to The Albuquerque Journal.
“Saucedo Sr. was never arrested and the District Attorney’s Office declined to charge either man after determining both men had ‘valid defense claims.’ ”
Several Democrats sided with minority Republicans in opposing the bill, but it was not enough to overcome the Democrat Party’s near-super-majorities in both chambers.
The bill makes it a misdemeanor for parents whose minor children brandish an unsecured firearm, and a felony if their child injures or kills someone with a firearm that was not properly secured.
The Castle VS School
It goes without saying that there’s a stark difference, in law and in logic, between shooting someone at school and defending your home against those who might wish you harm. One is a crime—Hargrove’s death is currently in litigation; the other a human right to self-defense that no law should obstruct.
One may reasonably ask, “How are you supposed to defend yourself if your guns are all locked up and someone breaks into your home?”
The answer offered by the state legislature was not “Call the police,” because short-sighted though New Mexico lawmakers may be, they’re not idiots. Police respond to crimes. They don’t prevent them. (As the saying goes, “When seconds matter, police are mere minutes away.” Though if you happen to live in Albuquerque, “mere minutes” actually ranges between 38 and 98 minutes.)
The problem Democrats are attempting to solve is real, in New Mexico and nationally.
“The age-adjusted rate of firearm-related injury deaths in New Mexico in 2020 was 23.1 per 100,000 residents. This means that in 2020, for every 100,000 people in New Mexico, 23 individuals died by firearm. This rate is 3.4% higher than the age-adjusted firearm-related death rate of 22.3 deaths per 100,000 residents reported in 2019. However, compared to a decade ago, this rate is drastically higher. The 2020 rate is 55% higher than the rate from 2010 (14.9 deaths per 100,000 people).”
—NMDOH, December 2021
But the issue is not so cut-and-dry as to be easily solved by gun safes and trigger locks.
This bill may seem like another unconstitutional gun grab by Democrats trying to legislate what happens inside your home. In principle, any infringement on the Second Amendment is unconstitutional. But in terms of practicality and enforcement, Conservatives who honor the Constitution and who have respect for firearms should not worry themselves too much with the new law.
Bad Parents & Negligent Gun Owners Beware
If a child is shooting people with his dad’s gun, a logical person could see how the parent ought to be held liable for negligence. (The bill specifically excludes self-defense, defense of another person, and lawful recreational use of a firearm.)
After every major mass shooting (by “major” I mean only straight White killers, because the mainstream media doesn’t hype any other kind), when the news reveals details of the killer’s life and hobbies and psychoses, most people find it unfathomable that the parents who created these monsters are not held liable.
Adam Lanza’s mother raised her son in a hole with a video game console. He was ugly, awkward, weak, and weird. So she bought him guns.
Anderson Lee Aldrich was 22 when he murdered trannies at a gay nightclub, but he was not an adult. His mother forced him to go to the gay nightclub for entertainment. What she didn’t force him to do was work or pay rent or exercise.
Monsters are created. Frankenstein should share the blame.
For Republicans who believe in self-responsibility and think minors are ill-equipped to make adult decisions (16 year olds voting, for example, or lopping off genitals in the name of self-discovery), holding parents liable for the illegal actions of their children isn’t that outlandish of an idea.
Is it a slippery slope? Sure. Will it prevent the next Bennie Hargrove murder? Probably not.