Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver denied a third request Monday to approve a proposed referendum on repealing a new gun control law.

Republicans led by House Republican Leader Jim Townsend have called for a statewide vote on Senate Bill 8 in the next election. Senate Bill 8, legislation passed earlier this year, that mandates citizen background checks on firearm sales in New Mexico. Townsend resubmitted his proposed draft petition to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver for her office’s review and approval to distribute to voters.

To get the issue on the ballot, opponents of the law would need to gather signatures from eligible voters.

Secretary Toulouse Oliver wrote to House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, “bears a valid, reasonable relationship to the preservation of public peace, health or safety, and it was clearly enacted by the legislature for these purposes.”

Toulouse Oliver a democrat has rejected two other proposed petitions from Townsend, citing the same constitutional provision as well as technical issues about the wording of the proposed petition.

Townsend has argued New Mexicans have a right to weigh in on the new law, which critics argue would only burden law abiding gun owners and potentially violates New Mexico Citizens rights under the New Mexico Constitution.

Under the New Mexico Constitution, the people have the power to “disapprove, suspend and annul” laws enacted by the Legislature. The process begins with a petition of New Mexico voters and requires several different actions depending on the number of signatures. The number of required signatures is based on the voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 General Election and actions to be taken include:

1. If 10% of voters sign a petition, the law is placed on the ballot for approval or rejection of all voters. 

2. If 25% of the voters sign the petition within 90 days after adjournment of the session, the law is immediately suspended and it is placed on the ballot for approval or rejection of all voters.

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