Far-Reaching Large Capacity Magazine Ban Tabled Unanimously by New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator

  • On Tuesday, February 1, the New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee tabled House Bill 156 (HB 156) - Possession of Large Capacity Gun Magazine which would have made it a felony to possess, use, manufacture, import, purchase, sell, loan, borrow or transfer a large capacity magazine in the state.
  • “Large capacity magazine” was defined as “a magazine, box, drum, tube, feed strip or other container that is capable of holding more than fifteen rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly into a semi-automatic firearm.”
  • If allowed to pass, HB 156 would have 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.

Why it Matters: Baseless restrictions on magazine capacity creates unnecessary burdens on responsible firearms owners who would then have to purchase additional equipment for their firearms to be legally operational. Such restrictions come at high costs to firearm manufactures and consumers, with little to no evidence indicating a reduction in crime. Instead, states face a real threat of disincentivizing recreational shooters through magazine capacity legislation, leading to a loss of vital state-based conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding.

Firearm legislation seems to be a reoccurring legislative theme in New Mexico’s Roundhouse in recent years, and the 30-day 2022 budget session is no different. Among the slew of gun-control bills introduced this session, House Bill 156 (HB 156) - Possession of Large Capacity Gun Magazine, would have made it a felony to possess, use, manufacture, import, purchase, sell, loan, borrow or transfer a large capacity magazine in the state. HB 156 defined a “large capacity magazine” as “a magazine, box, drum, tube, feed strip or other container that is capable of holding more than fifteen rounds of ammunition to be fed continuously and directly into a semi-automatic firearm.” After lengthy public testimony, the New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted unanimously to table HB 156, effectively killing the bill for the session.

Throughout the nation, countless firearms are built and/or sold from the manufacturer with magazine capacities that exceed 15 rounds. Although HB 156 labels these devices as “large capacity,” in reality these magazines are often a factory standard when hunters and recreational shooters purchase firearms. If allowed to pass, HB 156 would have created an unnecessary and groundless burden on the firearm industry to be able to supply firearms and firearm components to New Mexico’s recreational shooters and hunters.

Furthermore, many bolt action guns on the market today are purposefully designed to only accommodate the popular magazines originally designed for modern sporting rifles. Because these bolt action rifles are designed to accept these magazines, they would also be impacted by HB 156 broad definitions, even though they are not semi-automatic firearms. But it doesn’t stop there, HB 156 also contained no provision for existing products to be grandfathered, and no details on timeline or process for when people must surrender or sell their current magazines if they are not to be grandfathered. Essentially, should HB 156 be enacted, anyone in possession of a “large capacity magazine” after the effective date would be guilty of a felony for each such device they own – turning otherwise law-abiding sportsmen and women into felons overnight.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a formal letter of opposition to the New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee ahead of HB 156’s scheduled hearing, highlighting the abhorrent shortcomings of the bill, and total disregard for the for the significant financial role New Mexico’s recreational shooters play in conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding. CSF commends the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee for their unanimous vote to table HB 156 and the citizens of New Mexico who testified in opposition of the bill.

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