New Mexico is an "open carry" state, which means that it's legal for most adults to openly carry guns and other deadly weapons in public without a license. But you do need a license to carry a concealed, loaded gun. And certain people aren't allowed to have any firearms. Read on for details of the state's restrictions on carrying, possessing, and using deadly weapons.
Various New Mexico laws make it a crime to carry guns or other deadly weapons under certain circumstances. These laws generally have exceptions for law enforcement and other authorized personnel.
You can be charged with a petty misdemeanor in New Mexico if you carry a concealed, loaded firearm or other deadly weapon, unless you:
(N.M. Stat. § 30-7-2 (2020).)
Who's Eligible for a Concealed Handgun License?
In order to qualify for a concealed handgun license, you must complete a firearms training course and be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen, and a New Mexico resident (or stationed there in the military). Even so, you'll be denied if you've ever been convicted of a felony (or are under indictment) or certain violent misdemeanors; have a recent DUI, drug, or domestic violence conviction; are addicted to alcohol or illegal drugs; or are otherwise prohibited from gun possession under federal or state law (as discussed below). (N.M. Stat. § 29-19-4 (2020).)
Even if you have a concealed carry license, it's against the law to carry any deadly weapon on school property (including K-12 schools and universities) or anywhere school-sponsored activities are taking place, unless you are:
Penalties are stiffer for carrying weapons at K-12 schools (a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico) than at universities (a petty misdemeanor). (N.M. Stat. §§ 30-7-2.1, 30-7-2.4 (2020).)
You can be charged with a fourth-degree felony if you carry a gun in a place that's licensed to sell liquor. If you have a concealed handgun license, however, you can bring the gun into a liquor store or a restaurant that gets most of its income from food sales, unless the business has notices that guns aren't allowed. (N.M. Stat. § 30-7-3 (2020).)
Carrying a gun while under the influence of an intoxicant or narcotic is a petty misdemeanor in New Mexico (N.M. Stat. § 30-7-4(A)(2) (2020)).
It's a misdemeanor to carry a gun or other deadly weapon on a school bus, public transit bus, or private for-hire coach in New Mexico. (N.M. Stat. §§ 30-7-11, 30-7-13, 30-7-15 (2020).)
If you're younger than 19, it's against the law for you to have a handgun in New Mexico. Exceptions include when you are:
The state also outlaws possession of any firearm or explosive weapon if you are subject to an "extreme risk firearm protection order" (under New Mexico's version of what's commonly called a red flag law) or a protection order under New Mexico's domestic violence laws, or if you've been convicted of certain crimes, including:
Violations of these prohibitions are generally punished as misdemeanors, except for illegal possession by a felon—which is itself a third-degree felony.
It's a petty misdemeanor for anyone to have switchblade. (N.M. Stat. §§ 30-7-2.2, 30-7-8, 30-7-16, 40-17-11 (2020).)
It's a felony in New Mexico to fire a gun at a residence or any occupied building, or to shoot recklessly at or from a vehicle. The penalties depend on whether someone was injured as a result.
You'll face petty misdemeanor charges for shooting or handling a weapon under other circumstances, including:
It's also against the law to set off explosives; penalties depend on your intentions and the resulting injury of damage.
Finally, New Mexico increases the penalties for various crimes, such as assault or battery, when they involve a gun or other deadly weapon. (N.M. Stat. §§ 30-3-8, 30-7-4, 30-7-5, 30-7-6 (2020).)
If you've been charged with a weapons-related crime in New Mexico, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. A criminal conviction—especially for a felony—can carry serious punishment and affect your future. An experienced attorney can explain how the law applies to your situation, help you prepare a strong defense, and negotiate a good plea bargain when that's appropriate.
Look Out for Changes in the Law
Because states may change their laws at any time, you may want to check the current version of statutes discussed here by using the search tool on the New Mexico Courts website. Still, court decisions (and sometimes the practices of local prosecutors) can affect how those laws are interpreted and applied. That's another reason why it's a good idea to consult with a local attorney if you're worried about actual or potential criminal charges.