What Are the Gun Laws in New Mexico?
New Mexico, compared to other states, is relatively relaxed when it comes to gun laws. Regardless, if you want to conceal carry, open carry, or have guns in your home, knowing the regulations is critical. Breaking a gun law is a severe offense, and it could result in jail time, fines, or possibly a prison sentence.
The gun laws in New Mexico were explicitly designed to regulate the sale, possession, and use of legal firearms along with ammunition used in those firearms. The state’s laws overseeing gun possession, use, and sale in New Mexico fall under Statute Chapter 30, Article 7.
Basic New Mexico Gun Laws to Know
Whether you are looking into purchasing a gun or you want to sell the one you own, here are some of the basic laws you must know:
You Don’t Need a Permit to Purchase a Gun
Some states require you have a permit before you buy a gun, but New Mexico is not one of those states. This cuts down on wait times between getting your permit and acquiring a weapon. However, it is limited to handguns and long guns only.
You Don’t Have to Register Your Firearm
You might be surprised to hear it, but New Mexico doesn’t require that you register a firearm you own. Other states are stringent on this and often require that you register the firearm as well as notify the state if you sell the firearm to another party.
You Do Need a License for a Conceal Carry
Conceal carry means the firearm is on your body, but not visible to the public. You are required to have a concealed carry license for any handgun you own. You must have a short-term or full-time conceal carry license, and qualifying for these licenses requires a few steps, including:
- Passing a criminal background check;
- Having a valid New Mexico driver’s license;
- Passing a mental health record check;
- Completing with a certificate of completion for a 15-hour handgun safety course;
- Passing a live-fire instruction training session; and
- Carrying your permit on you if you are concealed carrying.
Active duty military members, law enforcement, and those who have recently retired from military service have different requirements.
You do not need a permit to open carry a loaded firearm, and you do not need a permit to open carry a loaded or unloaded gun inside your vehicle either.
While you have the right to conceal carry even with a license, you cannot conceal carry a weapon on a school campus – regardless of your license status.
The Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine Rules
New Mexico has limited rulings on the Castle Doctrine or “Stand Your Ground” laws. Basically, you must prove that you had a legitimate fear for your safety or you felt a threat that would be present with a retreat before you fired your gun. If you have a legitimate fear and situation, then you have the right to use your firearm in self-defense. The court has a limited scope on what qualifies as a genuine fear. But often, if you are inside your home and someone intrudes and threatens your safety, they allow for this defense.
Know All Restricted Places
While the state has rather lenient and forgiving gun laws, you cannot carry your gun everywhere you please.
In fact, there are several strict off-limit zones for handguns, whether open or conceal carry, including:
- K-12 schools of any kind;
- Any state or federal courthouse unless you have been authorized by the judge overseeing your case;
- State community colleges, universities, and secondary education facilities;
- Military installations – unless active duty and permitted to carry on the base;
- Any establishment that sells liquor, such as a bar;
- Native American reservations unless the Tribal Council approves your carry;
- Secured zones of local airports;
- Someone’s private property unless the owner has given his or her consent;
- Public transportation of any kind;
- While you are under the influence of prescription medications, drugs, or alcohol.
What Happens If You Violate Gun Laws in New Mexico
Gun laws are relaxed, but if you were to violate those gun laws, the penalties can be harsh – depending on the extent of your violation.
For example, if you commit a crime while using or carrying a firearm, you will face enhanced penalties over the standard penalty. By carrying a deadly weapon, even if you do not cause harm with it, you might be charged with aggravated assault rather than simple assault.
Convicted Felons Cannot Carry Weapons
If you are convicted of a felony crime, both state and federal law impose restrictions on your ability to own, possess, carry, or sell a firearm. Under New Mexico law, however, there are exceptions. When any of the following apply, the prohibition under state law does not apply:
- You were pardoned;
- The court issued a deferred sentence; or
- It has been 10 years since you completed your sentence.
For example, if you were convicted of a felony drug crime and released from prison 12 years ago, it means you would not violate New Mexico’s gun laws by carrying a firearm. However, you could still be charged in federal court under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). This is because there is no provision in the federal laws restoring a gun owner’s rights after a felony conviction.
Thus, if you have been convicted of any felony in New Mexico or elsewhere in the US, state police officers could detain you and turn you over to federal law enforcement officers. From there, federal prosecutors could charge you under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).
So while New Mexico law provides greater gun ownership rights than federal law in this particular situation, federal law supersedes state law and criminalizes gun possession for those who have a felony conviction on their record.
Punishment for Violating Gun Laws Directly
If you carry a concealed weapon without a license, it is a petty misdemeanor. You may serve up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. If you were to carry a weapon on school property, even with a valid license, you might face a fourth-degree felony charge that can include up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
Charged with a Gun Crime? Contact an NM Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
If you or a loved one was arrested for violating local gun laws, do not think as a first-time offender you will not be penalized. While the gun laws are relaxed in our state, violators are prosecuted to the fullest. Therefore, you need a criminal defense attorney that has experience defending gun law violations or crimes committed with a firearm.
Speak with the legal team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today by calling our office or scheduling your free consultation online. You can also request more information by completing our online contact form.