Home Law and Courts NRA files legal challenge to New Mexico waiting period law

NRA files legal challenge to New Mexico waiting period law

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NRA files legal challenge to New Mexico waiting period law

News-Sun Staff Report

The National Rifle Association has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in New Mexico, challenging the state’s new seven-day waiting period law for firearm purchases that went into effect Wednesday.

The lawsuit, Ortega v. Grisham, was filed in collaboration with the Mountain States Legal Foundation.

New Mexico’s “Unlawful Sale of a Firearm Before Required Waiting Period Ends Act” mandates a seven-day waiting period before a firearm purchaser can take possession of the weapon, even if they pass a background check immediately.

While the law exempts concealed carry permit holders, it does not provide exceptions for urgent situations, such as imminent threats to the buyer’s safety, according to the plaintiffs.

“The NRA fights every day in Washington, DC, state capitals, and when necessary, the legal arena, to protect the constitutional freedoms of law-abiding Americans and NRA members,” Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Randy Kozuch said. “The State of New Mexico’s waiting period law is a clear violation of its citizens’ Second Amendment rights – needlessly delaying their ability to acquire a firearm for self-defense or sporting purposes.

“With this legal challenge, NRA is committed to seeing that this unconstitutional law be wiped from the state statutes.”

The NRA is suing New Mexico Gov.Michelle Lujan Grisham and N.M. Attorney General Raúl Torrez, arguing the waiting period infringes upon both the Second Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, which applies the Second Amendment to the states.

The NRA has also requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of the law during litigation.

The lawsuit, filed by plaintiffs Samuel Ortega and Rebecca Scott, details how the waiting period law has impacted their attempts to purchase firearms.

Ortega and Scott both passed federal background checks but were unable to take possession of their purchased firearms due to the waiting period requirement. They argue the law unnecessarily burdens their Second Amendment rights.

According to the lawsuit, “The right to keep and bear arms recognized in the Second Amendment is made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Waiting Period Act burdens the right of residents of the State of New Mexico, including plaintiffs, in exercising their right to keep and bear arms, a right which is explicitly protected by the Second Amendment.”

The lawsuit further contends there is no historical precedent for such a waiting period.

“It is impossible for the State to meet this burden because there is no historical tradition of firearms being regulated in this manner either at the time of our founding and the ratification of the Second Amendment, or during the Reconstruction era and the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the suit states.

However, it should be noted at least a dozen other states across the nation have extended waiting period laws, including Hawaii, which has a 14-day waiting period.

New Mexico Democrats attempted to push through a 14-day waiting period in the 2024 session, but the bill’s required wait was cut to seven days before it landed on the governor’s desk.

Earlier this week local gun shop owners said the extended wait will likely have a detrimental effect on gun sales, something they say is the true aim of the new law. However, interest in concealed carry classes has climbed in recent months as the new waiting period start date approached.

“We have seen an increase in people asking about the concealed courses. Other instructors I speak with said their classes are filling up,” said Dwayne Penick, co-owner of 2A Tactical in Hobbs.

Luis Ruiz, owner of Combat Arms, a small firearms dealer and concealed carry instructor said interest in his CCW permit classes has jumped.

“It has gone up probably 30 percent in the last few months,” he said.

Penick said gun purchases, despite their high price, are still impulse buys and the new waiting period may have customers filing background check paperwork for a firearm, but not returning after the seven days to pick it up.

Logistically, it could cause an inventorying nightmare for gun shop owners.

The federal background check is good only for 30 days from the date it is first filed, so potential gun buyers who don’t return within 30 days will be required to file a federal background check again and again wait seven days per the state law to take home a firearm.

For gun show organizers and small gun retailers who rely on gun show sales, the new law may be even more detrimental to business.

David McCutcheon with 505 Productions, one of the largest gunshow promoters in the state, said when the new law was signed that it will be challenging for gun show dealers.

He said vendors will have to work together to transfer firearms between them so vendors from other cities can get their firearms to buyers in the cities where the gun show is held after the 7-day wait.

The NRA and the plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the waiting period law is unconstitutional, a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt its enforcement and other relief as deemed appropriate by the court.

The Pinon Post contributed to this article.

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