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Thread: Political Climate In The NM Legislature - Long

  1. #1
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    Political Climate In The NM Legislature - Long

    I get a lot of questions about why we can't get some changes made to our firearms laws here in NM - or why it's so hard to do so. One question that comes up here a lot, and rightfully so because this is an open carry forum, "Why can we carry concealed in XXXXX but we can't carry openly?" OR "Why isn't anyone working on open carry here? Everything we see being changed has to do with concealed carry?"

    Obviously, I can't comment on every instance but I can shed a little light on the overall problem. It's about the Political Climate here in NM.

    We have been dealing with a far left Legislature in both chambers since 1955. In 1986, the Republicans won control of the Senate, but even then, the Republicans elected a Democrat President Pro-Tem. The President Pro-Tem sits in when the Lieutenant Governor, who is the President of the Senate, isn't available.

    Here's a link to the "Political Control - Legislative Sessions" data sheet kept by Legislative Council Services.
    http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/lcsdocs/P...%20Control.pdf

    That means the left leaning Democrats control all the committees as well as the House and Senate Chambers. That means every single bill we introduce to improve our firearms laws, every single change we request within the Administrative Code from any departmental agency in NM Government is an uphill battle in the face of the control exercised by the left.

    Since 1989, we have been working on passing legislation to enable a concealed carry statute, in recognition of the opposition of the left to seeing citizens carrying firearms openly. Those of us working on firearms laws saw a possible compromise "down the road" if we could build off a concealed carry law modeled on the Florida concealed carry statute passed in 1986.

    Our first goal was to pass a valid concealed carry statute and have it signed into law - regardless of the limitations we had to accept to get that done. The next step was revising that law into something more reasonable and lifting the limitations we were forced into. Just a few of those limitations were age, term of license, limitations on where we could carry, what we could carry, how we were required to qualify to carry, how long before a license had to be issued or denied, cost of the license, opening reciprocity with other states, etc.

    In some cases, to effect those positive changes, we had to reach a compromise. For example, to get a four year license term we had to accept the 2-year requalification. We viewed that as an acceptable compromise or "friendly amendment" in the House Judiciary Committee because it allowed us to pay for a renewal every four year, instead of every two and eliminated the classroom portion of the renewal to simply 2 hours at the range. Not what we wanted, but an improvement nonetheless. Now we still work toward removing that requirement. If we had nothing else on the table in a session, it is likely that we could succeed in removing it. However, there have been times we used this as a bargaining chip. We'll agree to table [effectively kill] this bill if a chairman will hear and help us pass another. Another example: I'll kill the requalification bill if you'll help get the alcohol bill passed. That's exactly how we got the limited alcohol law passed. It wasn't what we wanted - it was what we could get.

    What does this have to do with open carry? If you follow our attempts to create a concealed carry law, you'll see how difficult it has been to pass something that is "out of sight, out of mind" and less offensive to the leftist legislature we deal with here. The objective is to move forward on positive legislation and over time, demonstrate that the problem isn't with people carrying guns. The problem is re-educating the leftist public to understand those of us that embrace our Constitutional Rights are doing so for positive purposes and that we don't have what I've heard lovingly referred to as "John Wayne Attitudes" in the House Judiciary Committee.

    As we move forward to improving our concealed carry laws, we are also working behind the scenes to raise positive awareness of our open carry rights here in NM. We need to understand that we are forced into a situation that we must take what we can get and relegate ourselves to work incrementally to reach our final goals. It takes time and patience to change leftist attitudes to allow us more and more latitude in how they control our rights and privileges granted by the state. It's not easy.

    One thing that makes it more difficult - is "us" - which is part of the point of my taking time to offer this lengthy explanation. Unfortunately, there are those of us out there that can't understand why those of us working on legislation do things the way we do here in NM [some being from out of state that want to affect change here in NM] and are vocal or demonstrative in how and where they are carrying their open firearms - example; the guy that recently carried openly in a Legislative Committee Hearing, was asked to leave or conceal and refused. After he did that, members here on this forum and others were outraged that Sen. Feldman wanted to make the Senate off-limits to firearms - that's not over yet by the way.

    I constantly get emails or calls of admonishment from folks that are unhappy that something "we" see as common sense for open carry, is being worked on for concealed carry only. State Park carry is a recent example. We're working on it for concealed carry. Why? Because we had to compromise to concealed carry. We were told very clearly that Parks and Rec would strongly oppose [should read, never allow - and they have the control] firearms in NM State Parks. The objective is to grant permission for concealed carry and after no unlawful concealed carry incidents for a while, we can work specifically on open carry. We know how to justify it - it just takes time to open that door.

    You've probably seen it before if you've been paying attention:

    Give me a common sense legislature to work with and I'll get you almost any change you want in our open and concealed carry law here in NM. Keep electing and re-electing those that oppose your right to carry and you'll continue to get even the most minor change in our firearms law compromised down to almost nothing to see something pass.

    Elections are coming up. It's up to the voting public in NM to affect positive change .

    Steve Aikens

  2. #2
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    Steve seeing how you are the most active in politics you know who we should support in the elections. A list of people would be quite handy.

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    I appreciate your confidence but all I will tell you is to exercise your right to vote. Do some research, find out which candidates are most closely aligned to your political ideals.

    As a general rule, those most closely aligned with folks posting here would be conservative Republicans.

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    Theres truth there.Its always been kind of hard to find a leftie supporting guns.I was thinking a list of the people that earned our vote already that continue to defend us.

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    The best I can do for you is offer a few sites that are NM Politics specific:

    http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/

    http://nmpolitics.net/index/

    Check them both out and it won't take long to see which is an honest site and which is loaded with spin and 'adjustment' of the facts.

    Then be sure to visit this one:

    http://nmpolitics.org/

    Due diligence is especially important in this upcoming election. Both full chambers are up for election. Making the wrong decision in the voting booth can make positive things happen, or we can play the same old song over again.

    It's up to the voters.
    Last edited by steveaikens; 03-11-2012 at 12:02 PM. Reason: Forgot to add the third site.

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    "Steve seeing how you are the most active in politics you know who we should support in the elections. A list of people would be quite handy." -- awnuts


    I for one would suggest that Steve himself should be on a list of legislators...meaning he should run for office and become one of them! I'm sure everyone HERE would support him 100%.

    As for a list of present NM legislators -- until Steve gets elected (!) -- perhaps he could give each of them a pro-gun grade (as the NRA does) so NM voters would know who to support and who NOT to support.
    Last edited by cloudcroft; 03-11-2012 at 10:24 PM.

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    "Awnuts" - there's a difference in a Democratic legislator and a "leftie". If you look at our bill sponsors, you'll notice quite quickly that the majority of our bills are carried by Democrats. There are moderate Dems, just as there are liberal Repubs. Sorting them out is generally not much of a problem. Some of the most difficult key legislation has been carried by Senator Shannon Robinson, Senator George Munoz, Representitive John Heaton and others - all Democrats, all flying in the face of their party ideals - all doing the right thing to uphold our Constitunional rights and privlidges of the state.

    "Cloudcroft" - I appreciate the thought. However, there's no possibility I would ever consider running for any political office. Perhaps one of you would consider it?

    As to a rating or some other indication of who "I" think you should consider - like I said earlier - ain't happening. That's just not the way the system works, or was designed to work.

    It should be of no surprise here that I work with our NRA lobbyist and the NMSSA lobbyist. We work with "your" legislature as a team. Consequently, I am part of the rating team for NRA and the NMSSA. We do ratings for NM and publish them. However, we do that as a team and rate candidates based primarily on questionnaires and our ability to work with incumbents - or not - over a period of time. In the case of those outside the legislature that are running for office, the rating is solely based on the questionnaires and what we can learn about that individual from our research. I'll be more than happy to post our ratings in plenty of time for you to do some research of your own into the candidates after they're rated, so you can decide who in your district you think might do the best job representing your ideals.

    You have to understand how the team works. We don't always agree on everything we do. In fact, there are a number of times over the years that we've been in fairly heated discussions with each other about what we need to do and why. The key here is, we have the ability to not take anything personal - though at times we all do and then get over it and move forward. We have had several issues that crop up that we have had to really work to justify our actions so we can all support everything we do - together. The same holds true for rating candidates. We have discussions that are often very personal and first person about a legislator that treated one of us with very little "respect" at one time or another. That same legislator may be able to work with another one us on the team really well. We wind up coming to a consensus that doesn't include personality conflicts. Some legislators don't like what they perceive to be a national organization butting into NM affairs, some don't like the idea of a former legislator still trying to affect the current legislators, and some don't at all like working with an activist like me. However, as a team, each of us has our strong points and legislators we can work with, where another team member may have a problem with them.

    The end result is usually a reasonable rating that promotes our collective ideals for the good of us all that think our Second Amendment means something. If I were to give you my personal ratings, it would include my personal interactions with those legislators. Some that I have little regard for work well with Tara or Joe to positive results. I'd probably be inclined to exclude them personally. Not what you want and not what I can do in good conscience.

    Each of us needs to take the time to do as much research as we can to select the candidate that we believe to best support our ideals, not take the word of any single individual. As election time nears, I'll give you more and more ways to research the candidates for yourselves. When we have completed our state ratings as a team, I'll get those results to you as well...

    Steve Aikens
    Last edited by steveaikens; 03-12-2012 at 09:43 AM.

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