February 21, 2023

Tensions Build as New Mexico’s 60-Day Session Reaches the Halfway Point

Why It Matters: For over 80 years, hunters, anglers, trappers, and recreational shooters have played a crucial role in funding conservation efforts in the United States through the American System of Conservation Funding (System). Specific to New Mexico, 98% of the Department of Game and Fish’s budget comes from sportsmen’s dollars (to the tune of over $45 million/year) and funds conservation efforts throughout the state for both game and non-game species. Current legislative efforts in New Mexico aim to severely impact not only the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation but its funding mechanism as well.


  • Overly broad and arbitrary gun control is a primary focus of this legislative session.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has submitted written testimony on 4 pieces of legislation and engaged on several others despite Committee Chairs limiting public engagement in the process.
  • With only 30 days left, bills will assuredly begin to move expeditiously through the process, with little hope for meaningful public engagement.

The start of the 2023 legislative session in New Mexico has been a whirlwind and it’s only halfway through. Both good and bad bills are moving and allotted public engagement within the legislative process has been severely limited by numerous Committee Chairs. However, despite the ongoing frustrations, CSF and numerous partners have continued to engage in support of hunting, fishing, trapping, recreational shooting, and science-based wildlife management.  Below is a list of the various pieces of legislation that CSF has engaged on thus far, including several in which, due to circumstances beyond our control, CSF was not offered the opportunity to provide verbal testimony; however, CSF was prepared with written testimony that further substantiate the Foundation’s position. In this way, CSF continued to rise above the challenges that have been presented to many in the sporting conservation community.


Wildlife Management Legislation

SB 254 – Game and Fish Licensing Fees

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is proposing to increase the cost of both resident and non-resident hunting and fishing licenses. The fee increases associated with SB 254 are necessary to maintain operations and continue to conserve New Mexico’s wildlife for everyone who enjoys it. It has been 17 years since the Department last had a fee increase and SB 254 will better align the cost of hunting and fishing in New Mexico with other western states, while filling some necessary funding gaps.

CSF was registered and prepared to deliver verbal testimony via Zoom in support of SB 254; however, the Committee Chair only allowed 2 proponents and 2 opponents to give comment and CSF was not called. SB 254 passed out of the Senate Conservation Committee with a 5-2 vote and now waits to be calendared in Senate Finance Committee, where CSF will deliver written testimony in strong support.

HB 261 – Expanded Unlawful Taking of Big Game

HB 261 simply adds javelina, bear, and mountain lion into the existing wanton waste statue which requires hunters to remove the four quarters, backstraps or tenderloins from the field. By including mountain lion, black bear, and javelina in New Mexico’s wanton waste statute, it not only increases public acceptance for hunting these charismatic and often anthropomorphized animals, but it serves to neutralize key arguments often used as reasoning to further limit or eliminate the ability of hunters to pursue them.

CSF submitted testimony in support of HB 261, which subsequently passed out of the House, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee with a 10-0 vote and is currently waiting to be calendared in the House Judiciary Committee.


Firearm Legislation 

HB 50 – Possession of Large Capacity Gun Magazines

HB 50 is an egregious magazine ban that would make it a felony to possess, receipt, purchase, sale, offer for sale, keep for sale, barter, trade, gift, give, lend, acquire, or import any standard capacity magazine capable of holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition. The 9-round limit would be the lowest in the nation and would effectively ban the use of some of the most popular pistols and rifles purchased by New Mexicans.

CSF submitted testimony in opposition to HB 50, which poses to not only severely impact New Mexico’s recreational shooting community, but also significantly reduce much-needed conservation funding for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. HB 50 was calendared to be heard in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, but the sponsor pulled it from the agenda and subsequently has voiced her support for a broader bill that includes similar limits on magazines (HB 101). HB 50 has not been calendared and is not expected to be, so long as HB 101 is alive.

HB 101 Committee Substitute – Assault Weapons Regulations Act

HB 101 Committee Substitute intends to prohibit the “manufacture, possession, delivery, sale, importation and purchase of assault weapons and assault weapon attachments” which by this bill’s definition, targets certain firearms and associated features that are quite common within the hunting and recreational shooting communities and often come as factory standards. Not only would this ban unduly punish those who intend to purchase the addressed firearms or accessories, but individuals who are currently in possession of said rifles, shotguns, and handguns would be subjected to comply with unjust and arbitrary registration requirements. HB 101 Committee Substitute is rumored to be Governor Lujan Grisham’s priority gun control legislation this session.

CSF submitted testimony in opposition of HB 101 Committee Substitute as it poses to not only severely impact New Mexico’s recreational shooting and hunting community, but also significantly reduce much-needed conservation funding for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. HB 101 Committee Substitute passed out of the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee with a 4-2 vote. The House Judiciary Committee discussed the bill last Friday and took limited public comment. After public comment and discussion with committee members, the sponsor indicated that she was working on additional “technical amendments” to the bill. The House Judiciary Committee decided to not vote on the bill until they were able to review and discuss the forthcoming amendments. HB 101 Committee Substitute has not been re-calendared as of yet.

SB 116 – Unlawful Purchase or Possession of Firearms By a Person Under the Age of 21

SB 116 would establish a minimum age of 21 years old to purchase or possess semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and standard capacity magazines, with some limited exceptions. SB 116 would be extremely detrimental to current efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate (R3) hunters and recreational shooters to the outdoor sporting community. R3 programs often focus on getting non-traditional demographics engaged in our time-honored traditions. The purchasing and possession restrictions in SB 116 would have a disproportionately negative impact on individuals who want to get involved in hunting or recreational shooting, but do not have the community ties or personal relationships to be able to adhere to the exemptions listed within the bill.

CSF was registered and prepared to deliver verbal testimony via Zoom in opposition of SB 116; however, the Committee Chair only allowed 6 proponents and 6 opponents to give comment and CSF was not called. SB 116 passed out of the Senate Health and Public Affairs with a 6-3 vote and now waits to be calendared in Senate Judiciary Committee, to which CSF will delivery written testimony in opposition.

SB 171 – Prohibiting the Sale of Automatic Firearms

SB 171 (among many other things)  would ban assault pistols, automatic firearms, rifles with barrel lengths less than 16 inches, shotguns with barrel lengths less than 18 inches, mufflers, silencers, or devices for deadening or muffling the sound of discharged firearms, any type of ammunition or any projectile component thereof coated with Teflon or any other similar coating designed primarily to enhance its capabilities to penetrate metal or any type of ammunition or any projectile component thereof designed or intended to explode or segment upon impact with its target.

CSF submitted written testimony in opposition of SB 171, stating that the attempt to ban suppressors (also known as silencers) is an unwarranted attempt to supersede federal law and make it a felony to manufacture, sell, transfer, or acquire a firearm sound suppressor and other federally regulated items included in National Firearms Act, as well as certain semi-automatic pistols. SB 171 was subsequently amended in Committee and the suppressor language was removed.  The amended version of SB 171 passed out of Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee with a 5-3 vote and is currently waiting to be calendared in Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation will continue to engage in New Mexico as needed in support of our time-honored traditions and shared outdoor heritage.

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