Weapons Charges in New Mexico

Learn about New Mexico’s gun regulations, including restrictions on the possession, carrying, and use of deadly weapons.

By , Legal Editor

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.

When It's Illegal to Carry a Deadly Weapon in New Mexico

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.

Carrying Concealed and Loaded Firearms Without a License

You can be charged with a petty misdemeanor in New Mexico if you carry a concealed, loaded firearm or other deadly weapon, unless you:

  • have a valid concealed handgun license
  • are in your home or on property that you own or rent, or
  • are carrying the weapon for protection in a private vehicle.

(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).)

Deadly Weapons at Schools and Universities

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:

  • older than 19 and keeping the gun in your private vehicle for protection, or
  • participating in a school-approved program or activity that involves firearms.

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).)

Carrying Guns in Liquor Stores, Bars, and Restaurants

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

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)).

Deadly Weapons on Buses

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).)

New Mexico Prohibitions on Weapons Possession

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:

  • on property controlled by your parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, and under that person's supervision
  • attending a gun safety course or practicing at a shooting range
  • legally hunting or trapping, or
  • traveling to or from these activities (but only if the gun is unloaded).

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:

  • a felony, if you completed the sentence or probation within the past ten years
  • stalking
  • battery against a household member, or
  • criminal damage to household member's property.

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).)

Illegal Use of Guns and Other Dangerous Weapons

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:

  • firing a gun in a way that you know will endanger someone or damage their property
  • firing a gun within 150 yards of a residence or building without the owner's permission, or
  • negligently handling any deadly weapon in a way that endangers someone

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).)

Getting Legal Help

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.

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