The shooting death of 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove in New Mexico by one of his schoolmates prompted Representative Pamelya Herndon to present a child access prevention bill to the Legislature. House Bill 9 will hold gun owners accountable if their weapons are unsecured and then used by a child to commit a crime.
The Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, named after the student killed on his Albuquerque school playground by a classmate with his father's unsecured weapon, updates the outdated New Mexico criminal code and gives District Attorneys the prosecutorial power to punish parents who do not secure their firearms away from children.
As of 2020, 40 percent of New Mexico households had at least one firearm in the household, with 64 percent of those weapons kept loaded and 21 percent loaded and unlocked, according to the state Health and Human Services 2022 data book.
According to the Health and Human Services report, federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show New Mexico had a rate of gun deaths of 14.5 per 100,000 in 2009, about four points higher than the national average of 10.1 per 100,000. The rate rose steadily over the past decade, reaching 22.3 in 2019, while the national average stayed relatively flat and was at 11.9 for the same year.
Hargrove’s shooting was one of at least 42 acts of gun violence committed on school campuses during regular hours in 2021, according to a December report in the Washington Post, which said the number smashed the previous record of 30 acts in a year.
“An estimated 4.6 million children live in homes with at least one unlocked and loaded gun — and most children know where these guns are kept,” according to the Children’s Defense Fund, a national nonprofit child advocacy group.
About 75 percent of children ages 5 to 14 who live with gun-owning parents know where firearms are stored and more than 20 percent of them have handled a gun in the home without their parents’ knowledge, according to the group’s website.
We, the people of New Mexico, call upon the Legislature to pass House Bill 9, to protect our children from gun violence.
The Support the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act! petition to New Mexico Legislature was written by Pamelya Herndon and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.