New Mexico High Court says carry license restriction option violates right to bear arms

New Mexico High Court says carry license restriction option violates right to bear arms

On June 4, 2002, the New Mexico Supreme Court struck down the state’s recently passed Right-toCarry law, because it impermissibly allowed local jurisdictions to refuse to recognize the licenses within their borders. The Court’s decision in Baca v. New Mexico Department of Public Safety will preclude localities from passing restrictions of any kind on the keeping and bearing of firearms.

New Mexico’s Constitution, Art. II, sec. 6, provides in part: “No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.” The carry law violated this provision, the Court said. The same provision of the New Mexico Constitution also states: “No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.”

The Court rejected the argument that carrying concealed weapons is not an incident of the right to bear arms based on the clause at the end. “The manner in which a person ‘bears’ a weapon, whether concealed or in plain view, is an incident of the right to bear arms… We believe it is unnecessary to go beyond the common sense meaning of `bear.'”

The Court’s decision opens the way for the legislature to pass a law establishing a true “shall issue” carry license system. Meanwhile, maintaining the integrity of the New Mexico Constitution’s proscription on localities regulating the right to bear arms is far more important than preserving a law that authorized such unconstitutional regulation.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Sep 2002

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