Gun laws in New Mexico

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Location of New Mexico in the United States

Gun laws in New Mexico regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the state of New Mexico in the United States.[1][2]

New Mexico laws governing the possession and use of firearms include those in New Mexico Statutes Chapter 30, Article 7, "Weapons and Explosives".[3]

Summary table[edit]

Subject/LawLong GunsHandgunsRelevant StatutesNotes
State permit to purchase?NoNo
Firearm registration?NoNo
"Assault weapon" law?NoNo
Magazine Capacity Restriction?NoNo
Owner license required?NoNo
Carry permits issued?NoYesNMSA 29–19–4Shall-issue, with completion of 15-hour handgun safety course that includes live-fire instruction. Permit required to carry concealed loaded firearm on foot. No permit needed for open carry, concealed carry of an unloaded firearm, or transport of a loaded firearm either concealed or openly in a vehicle. Unlawfully carrying a concealed firearm is a petty misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 6 months in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
Open carry permitted?YesYes
NFA weapons restricted?NoNo
State pre-emption of local ordinances?Yes*Yes*As stated in Article 2, Section 6 of the New Mexico Constitution. *Tribal laws on Native American reservations not pre-empted.
Castle Doctrine law?No*No*There is no law that specifically address Castle Doctrine or Stand your Ground in New Mexico. However, Castle Doctrine has been established in practice by a 1946 New Mexico Supreme Court ruling, which states that when a person reasonably feels "threatened with an attack need not retreat. In the exercise of his right of self defense, he may stand his ground and defend himself."[4] Currently, neither law nor court precedence provides the defender immunity from lawsuits arising from the use of lethal force in self-defense.
"Opt-Out" statute?YesYesNMSA 29–19–12; NMSA 30–14–6Property owners may prohibit the carrying of firearms onto property they lawfully possess by posting signage or verbally notifying persons upon entering the property. Violating these "gun-free" establishments is a 4th-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Peaceable journey laws?NoNoFederal rules observed.

State preemption[edit]

New Mexico has state preemption of firearms laws, so local governments may not restrict the possession or use of firearms. In 1986, Article 2, Section 6 of the state constitution was amended to say, "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."[5]

State gun laws do not pre-empt tribal laws on Native American reservations. While some tribes have established gun control policies that match New Mexico state law and honor New Mexico concealed carry permits, other tribes do not recognize any concealed carry permit regardless of where it was issued, and have far more restrictive gun control laws. Tribes with laws that do not match New Mexico state law have policies on open and concealed carry that vary from No-Issue to Shall-Issue, depending on the tribal nation. Native American reservations that do allow open or concealed carry typically have established their own permitting systems, where applications for concealed carry permits are processed and adjudicated by the respective tribal council.

Concealed carry[edit]

New Mexico is a "shall issue" state for the concealed carry of handguns, and permits the open carry of loaded firearms.[6] An applicant for a concealed carry permit must be a resident of New Mexico and at least 21 years of age. Each permit specifies the category and caliber of handgun that may be carried, but is also valid for a smaller caliber. The applicant must complete a state approved training course that includes at least 15 hours of classroom and firing range time, and must pass a shooting proficiency test for that category and caliber of handgun. A permit is valid for four years, but license holders must pass the shooting proficiency test every two years.[7] New Mexico's current concealed carry permit law was enacted in 2003. Prior to 2003, New Mexico was a "no-issue" state, however concealed carry without a permit was generally lawful in unincorporated rural areas. In 2001, state lawmakers passed a "may-issue" concealed carry law that would have allowed cities and counties to opt-out of issuing and honoring concealed carry permits that was subsequently struck down by the New Mexico Supreme Court before it could go into effect.[8]

New Mexico currently recognizes concealed carry permits from or has reciprocal agreements with the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.[9] New Mexico does not issue CCW permits to non-residents, except for Active Duty military members permanently assigned to a military installation within the state.

Even with a concealed carry permit, it is not legal to carry a firearm into a federal building, school, or restaurant that serves alcohol.[10] Carrying of a concealed weapon into a store that sells alcohol for off site consumption is legal, but open carry is not allowed in these locations.[11] The state also has an "opt-out" statute, allowing home and business owners the ability to legally forbid firearms on their property and/or in their buildings with appropriately displayed signage stating such prohibition.

New Mexico has an "extended domain" law, which means that a person's vehicle (including motorcycles, bicycles and while riding a horse) is considered an extension of their home. It is therefore legal to carry a loaded firearm without a permit, openly or concealed, anywhere in a vehicle.[12][10] On foot, no permit is required to carry a firearm unless it is both loaded and concealed.

Concealed carry of an unloaded firearm is legal without a permit in New Mexico, however the same restrictions that apply to openly carried firearms apply. Persons under age 19 cannot carry in this manner unless traveling to certain sporting, recreational or training events as defined in law or on property controlled by parents, grandparents or guardians and under their supervision.[3]

Other laws[edit]

New Mexico currently lacks laws for "Castle Doctrine" and "Stand Your Ground", but Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground do exist in practice through court precedence. A vaguely-worded castle doctrine law enacted in 1907 was subsequently stuck down by the New Mexico Supreme Court.[13]

However, a 1946 ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court (State v. Couch) held that defense of habitation alone, without specific statute, gave a homeowner the right to meet force with force “for a man’s house is his castle.” As a result of this ruling, judges provide a specific instruction to juries in self-defense cases, which states, “A person who is threatened with an attack need not retreat. In the exercise of his right of self defense, he may stand his ground and defend himself.”[14]

It must be noted that those who lawfully use lethal force in self-defense do not have immunity either through statute or court precedence from potential lawsuits by the aggressor and/or his or her surviving relatives.


  1. ^ "State Gun Laws: New Mexico", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  2. ^ "New Mexico State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "New Mexico Statutes, Chapter 30, Article 7, "Weapons and Explosives"". Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ New Mexico Has Stand Your Ground for Certain Juries, Albuquerque Journal, July 29, 2013
  5. ^ "Constitution of the State of New Mexico". Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ New Mexico Department of Public Safety – Information Concerning the Carrying of Concealed Weapons[dead link]
  7. ^ New Mexico Department of Public Safety – Concealed Carry Rules Amended and Approved, November 17, 2005[dead link]
  8. ^ Kopel, David B. "The Licensing of Concealed Handguns for Lawful Protection: Support from Five State Supreme Courts", Albany Law Review, Vol. 64. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  9. ^ "Reciprocity Agreements", New Mexico Department of Public Safety. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Concealed Carry FAQs", New Mexico Department of Public Safety. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  11. ^ "Section 30–7–3 NMSA 1978, As Amended", New Mexico Department of Public Safety. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  12. ^ "State Info: New Mexico". Retrieved February 12, 2013.. 
  13. ^ "New Mexico Gun Rights", Civil Liberties. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  14. ^ New Mexico Has Stand Your Ground for Certain Juries, Albuquerque Journal, July 29, 2013