Republican lawmakers and political candidates rallied with supporters Saturday outside the New Mexico State Capitol to denounce proposed gun restrictions and lay out an electoral strategy to make inroads with conservative Democrats in order to get more gun rights supporters elected in the Roundhouse.
Five state GOP electeds joined gun rights advocates and encouraged the crowd to vote, donate, find new candidates and identify which current state lawmakers they can influence.
The speeches offered a view into how Republicans hope to overcome the Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. The rally was organized by the New Mexico Firearms Industry Association, the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association and the National Rifle Association.
During the rally, Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) referred to herself and the four other Republican elected officials on the stage as “the line between you and communism.”
“More than anything else, I need you guys to help me: You’ve got to go find me candidates, you’ve got to get people, you’ve got to donate, you’ve got to help us get reelected, because this is it,” Lord said.
Democrats have large majorities in each chamber. On the House side 45 Democratic lawmakers work with 25 Republican House members. In the Senate, the political composition is 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans.
Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo) criticized Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham but took pains not to condemn all New Mexicans who vote Democrat: “Her party — the far left reaches of her party — have done everything possible to take away your Second Amendment rights, to torture your families, to take away your parental rights, and harm every person in this state for generations to come.”
Lord also corrected herself in the same way: “These Democrat — sorry — radical progressives do not care about any of you. You have become the enemy. Your government hates you.”
“This is completely the Bloomberg, Everytown, Moms Demand Action, out-of-state agenda,” she told the crowd. “Because you know what, our moderate Democrats want their firearms.”
Rep. Luis Terrazas (R-Santa Clara) said he is in office because of “good, strong Democrats.”
“This is not a Republican or Democrat situation,” Terrazas said. “This is an American, a New Mexican, right to bear arms. Why am I telling you this? Because we all have to come together as people that stand up for the Constitution, together.”
Sen. David Gallegos (R-Eunice) said he met with a group of constituents in Carlsbad in 2023 who told him, “If we can’t do our jobs, they will.”
“So when they don’t listen to us, they will listen to you,” Gallegos told the crowd. “We are here to represent you. We need them to listen to you and do what you’re asking of us, and it’s to protect your rights.”
House Bill 129, which would institute a seven-day waiting period before a person can purchase a gun, passed the House of Representatives on Friday by a 37-33 vote. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports eight Democrats joined the 25 House Republicans in opposition. Lujan Grisham supports several other pieces of gun legislation currently moving in the Roundhouse.
At the rally, Tara Mica, an NRA lobbyist for New Mexico and Texas, pointed to the vote tally on the House floor vote on HB 129, and asked the crowd to imagine what could have happened if more people had called or emailed their representatives.
“So remember that when Election Day comes later this year,” Mica said. “We need to flip a couple seats here. We need to replace these gun control supporters with supporters of our Second Amendment Rights.”
Both Mica and Rep. Randall Pettigrew (R-Lovington) said more legislation about guns will keep coming unless Republicans get out to vote.
“I need every single one of you to go to your Republican people in your district, I want you to go and find — Who is your ward leader? Who is your leader for your county? And I want you to hassle them,” Lord said. “I want you to ask them: What are you doing to get candidates? What are you doing to help us fight back, because guess what, we are two steps away from socialism in this state.”
Raymond Barnes, chairman of the GOP’s Ward 31 in northeast Albuquerque, encouraged the crowd to contact their ward and precinct leaders.
“We’ve got to do this from the ground up, folks. It’s not going to happen from the top down,” Barnes said. “When you have a representative who’s voting against your God-given rights, that person is doing the devil’s work, and we’ve got to rise up and we’ve got to eliminate them, we’ve got to get them out of office.”