The following is excerpted from KOAT News and reporter Angel Salcedo.
The Bennie Hargrove Act was created last year after 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed at Washington Middle School. Police say another student pulled the trigger. Now, the sponsors of the bill are looking to reintroduce the bill in 2023’s legislative session with some changes.
Representative Pamelya Herndon introduced the Bennie Hargrove Act in the last legislative session. She says the bill was designed to keep guns out of the hands of New Mexican children by holding parents accountable, but it was tabled during the 2022 session.
“The child who shot Bennie had access to his parent’s handgun. He brought it to school and utilized it. A number of legislators, both in the Senate and House, signed on to be a part of that bill,” Herndon said.
One of the arguments against the 2022 version of the bill was the lack of an exception for self-defense.
“We are ensuring that if someone were to break into your home or your car and steal your firearm, you would not be responsible for it,” Herndon said.
There were also concerns about the bill impacting Second Amendment rights.
“We are in no way impeding upon their ability to participate in any type of gun activity. All we’re asking is that once that activity is over, they keep the guns safely stored,” said Herndon.
Maier Law Firm in Albuquerque describes the Benny Hargrove Act as follows:
WHAT IS IT:
A proposed law that makes gun owners accountable if they do not store their firearms safely, particularly out of the reach of minors. The law will impose penalties that range from a misdemeanor to a felony when the firearm is not stored properly and is used to commit a crime.
WHY IS IT NECESSARY:
Historically, gun owners that willingly or recklessly fail to securely store firearms are not held liable for their actions resulting in catastrophic incidents like the one that caused the death of Bennie Hargrove.
WHAT IF MY GUN IS STOLEN:
This law does not punish gun owners if their firearm is stolen or taken from a locked contained, without the permission of the gun owner.
EXAMPLE OF ACTS IN VIOLATION OF THE PROPOSED LAW:
Owner of a firearm recklessly leaves firearm in a location that is easily accessible by a minor and the minor uses the firearm to harm students, teachers, or others. (This is what happened to Bennie Hargrove!)
WHO IS BENNIE HARGROVE:
Bennie was a courageous 8th grader who stood up to another 8th grader that had been beating up small and defenseless 6th graders. After protecting the 6th graders, the Bully was upset and decided to bring a gun to school to kill Bennie. Bennie was shot and killed at Washington Middle School on August 13, 2021 during recess by the Bully in front of other students, police officers, and his principal.
The Bully received his firearm from his father who had previously used a gun to shoot other parents on APS property, but had not been convicted. The Bully’s parents were known to provide the gun to their son, whose friends in school have stated that he brought it to school regularly. The Bully’s parents have not been charged with any crime because the District Attorney claims that no New Mexico law exists stopping parents from providing their children guns to use in crimes!
CALL YOUR STATE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES, MAYOR KELLER, AND GOVERNOR GRISHAM AND SAY, “PASS THE BENNIE HARGROVE GUN SAFETY ACT – DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!”
This proposed law is named in honor of Bennie to make sure other children do not experience the trauma of gun violence, and to make sure that gun owners know there are consequences if they do not store their firearms safely.