New gun laws could increase concealed carry permits

Firearms rights advocates said they are expecting an increase of New Mexicans applying for concealed carry permits in response to new gun laws in the state that go into effect May 15.

One of the bills, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law this year, creates a seven-day waiting period for most new gun purchases, with an exception for customers with concealed carry permits. Another bill signed into law prohibits guns a certain distance from polling places when voting is taking place, but there is also an exemption for concealed carry permit holders.

Until the new laws take effect, officials with the New Mexico Firearms Industry said, many customers — despite the loud drumbeat of stories on the legal and political battle over guns during the 2024 Legislature — have no idea what happened and what has changed.

Tom Kaye, of the New Mexico Firearms Industry Association, sees a traffic jam ahead at local gun stores.

“Most people are unaware of this new law,” Kaye wrote in an email. “When they are told that if they had an NM concealed carry license they could take the firearm home the same day, it will generate much more demand for concealed carry classes.”

And that’s already beginning to happen, Kaye said. Although it’s not a tsunami, the increase is noticeable, he said.

ABQ Guns owner Arnie Gallegos said although he’s not been seeing increased traffic since the laws were passed, “we’re talking to a lot more people about concealed carry classes. A lot more people ask about them.”

Miranda Viscoli, the co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, said the group also expects there to be an increase in gun sales and people obtaining concealed carry permits.

“That definitely is always an issue. But I don’t think that’s a reason not to pass common sense gun violence prevention legislation,” she said. “We’ll potentially get more gun sales. But it’s not a reason not to pass these laws.

“It does concern me that now we’ll get people getting more concealed carry permits, because we have reciprocity with other states,” she said. “And it’s very easy to get a concealed carry permit and know nothing about how to handle a firearm.”

It wasn’t clear last week if or how many more New Mexicans are trying to obtain concealed carry permits. The New Mexico Department of Public Safety didn’t immediately provide data on recent concealed carry permit requests in response to a records request.

The new gun laws will also lead to confusion behind the counter at gun stores, according to gun association officials. Kaye said it will create more work for firearms retailers, many of whom are locally owned small businesses.

“Retailers will be required to add secure storage space to hold more than seven days worth of firearms sales,” he said. “Also, the administrative workload will increase as additional paperwork must be completed when the firearm is transferred on a different day from when the background check was submitted. Currently, 90% or more of firearms sales are transferred the day the background check is submitted.”

The new waiting period law also extends how long a seller has to wait on a federal background check. The current rule is that if the background check isn’t completed in three days, the sale can go through. New Mexico’s new law extended that wait to 20 days.

The state firearms industry association has created new information cards explaining the waiting period for gun purchases. On the back of the card is a list of 80 New Mexico lawmakers under the title: “State lawmakers who voted for the 7-day waiting period on firearm purchases.”

Gallegos of ABQ Guns agreed the law itself is causing issues.

“The big issue that we’re running into is the law,” he said. “The law itself is so vague that it’s hard to really understand what the conditions are of the law and who actually falls under the 7-day or 20-day wait. …

Gallegos also agreed that the new law would mean more paperwork and finding new storage space, which they didn’t have to contend with before.

Eventually the gun traffic could balloon.

That rush to gun ranges hasn’t happened yet, according to Kaye. He said it appears those visits have been status quo so far. But he said that might change.

“It is strongly possible that range usage may increase as more people want to attend a concealed carry class and practice before the class,” he said. “… Additional classes will increase range demand.”