Roswell Shooting Puts Focus On New Mexico Gun Violence
January 15, 2014

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Center for American Progress
New Mexico’s gun-death rate is 40 percent higher than the U.S. average.

On Tuesday, two students were flown to Lubbock, Texas, for medical treatment after a seventh-grade student at a Roswell middle school opened fire with a shotgun on a crowd in a gymnasium.

There is still no known motive for the shooting, and officials report the gunman stopped firing when a school staff member approached the student and asked him to put the gun down.

According to the Center for American Progress, New Mexico is the 10th-worst state for gun deaths – a rate 40 percent higher than the U.S. average.

“From 2001 through 2010, 2,932 people were killed by guns in New Mexico,” the Center reports. “That is more than 70 percent more than the number of U.S. combat deaths in the Afghanistan war.”

The report goes on:

In 2009 New Mexico’s “crime-gun exports” – guns later recovered in crimes in other states that were originally sold in New Mexico – were exported from the state at a rate of 54 percent above the national average.

These type of statistics have led the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to give New Mexico an “F” for gun laws on their 2013 Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter.

If you're a gun owner or want to buy a gun in New Mexico, here's what you need to know: no permit is needed to purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns. No registration of firearms is needed and owners don't need to be licensed. There's no permit needed to carry rifles or shotguns, but handgun owners need permits. If you want to buy a gun, there’s no requirement for the dealer to conduct a background check.

“No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.” – Constitution Of The State Of New Mexico

When it comes to gun deaths in the state, it’s hard to get a bead on individual incidents and those that rise to the level of “mass shooting.” According to Slate’s gun-death tally, there were about 50 gun deaths in New Mexico between the Newtown Shooting that occured Dec. 14, 2012 and Dec. 31, 20143

Mother Jones’ Guide to Mass Shootings in America uses the following criteria to identify a mass shooting:

  • The shooter took the lives of at least four people. An FBI crime classification report identifies an individual as a mass murderer—versus a spree killer or a serial killer—if he kills four or more people in a single incident (not including himself), typically in a single location.
  • The killings were carried out by a lone shooter. (Except in the case of the Columbine massacre and the Westside Middle School killings, both of which involved two shooters.)
  • The shootings occured in a public place. (Except in the case of a party in Crandon, Wisconsin, and another in Seattle.) Crimes primarily related to gang activity or armed robbery are not included.
  • If the shooter died or was hurt from injuries sustained during the incident, he is included in the total victim count. (But we have excluded many cases in which there were three fatalities and the shooter also died, per the above FBI criterion.)
  • We included a handful of so-called "spree killings"—high-profile cases that fit closely with our above criteria for mass murder, but in which the killings occurred in more than one location over a short period of time.

However, according to the outlet's grim guide, there have been no mass shootings in New Mexico. Yet in January 2013 a 15-year-old in Albuquerque was arrested for the killing of his mother, three sisters and father in their home. Authorities later announced the teen planned to open fire randomly at a WalMart. The shooting does not appear on Mother Jones’ guide.

So where does all this leave the Roswell shooting? A press conference is expected Wednesday afternoon.

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