This week, the Piñon Post reported on a leftist bill, HB 70, which cloaks itself as a reasonable proposal aiming to more sharply define what an act of “domestic terrorism” is. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Bernalillo) and William Rehm (R-Bernalillo).
The revised definition of terrorism, according to the bill, reads as follows:
Terrorism consists of committing any act that causes great bodily harm or death with the intent to: (1) intimidate or coerce a civilian population, including committing mass violence in a place of worship or public accommodation; (2) influence the policy of a state entity or political subdivision of the state; or (3) affect the conduct of a state entity, political subdivision of the state or public accommodation by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping or an act of violence enumerated as a serious violent offense in Section 33-2-34 NMSA 1978. Whoever commits terrorism is guilty of a second degree felony.
Making a terroristic threat involving a school, community center, place of worship or public accommodation consists of unequivocally, unconditionally and specifically threatening to commit any act of terrorism pursuant to Subsection C of this section, whether that threat is made online or otherwise, against a person at a school, community center, place of worship or public accommodation, or against a school, community center, place of worship or public accommodation with the intent to: (1) cause a reaction to the threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies; (2) place a person in fear of great bodily harm; or (3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a school, community center, place of worship or public accommodation. Whoever commits making a terroristic threat involving a school, community center, place of worship or public accommodation is guilty of a third degree felony.
In an KOB 4, Hochman-Vigil tried to clarify what this bill would do. She said, “So if you put something on social media saying, ‘Oh I’m really upset about this and I think these people should be hurt, or I’m going to go protest at the Capitol in Santa Fe and I’m going to beat someone up’ – that I don’t think rises to that standard. It has to be very specific: ‘Rep. Hochman-Vigil, I’m going to go to the Capitol, I’m going to kidnap you, and I’m going to torture you until you die.’ That is a specific threat that I think could meet the standard of putting me in fear of great bodily harm.”
So according to the bill sponsor, saying “I’m going to beat someone up” at the Capitol does not qualify as a terrorist threat, while telling a specific individual (such as a state representative) that they are in danger of a specific threat does qualify. It appears to be a quite vague portion of the bill since the text does not necessarily line-up with the description Rep. Hochman-Vigil has given. The legislation appears to be creating a further grey area in the definition of “domestic terrorism.”
However, portions of the bill will increase penalties not only for the individual who commits a terrorist act, but it may hold a firearms instructor liable for merely teaching someone to handle a firearm that may be used in an act of terrorism. The bill says that any firearms teacher may be charged with a third-degree felony if someone they taught may at any time use the weapon for the bill’s definition of “terrorism.”
Any person who teaches or demonstrates the use, application or making of any firearm, destructive device or technique capable of causing injury or death to any person with the intent that the knowledge or skill taught, demonstrated or gained be unlawfully used to commit terrorism as defined in Subsection C of this section in furtherance of a civil disorder is guilty of a third degree felony
Any person who trains, practices or receives instruction in the use of any firearm, destructive device or technique capable of causing injury or death to any person with the intent that the knowledge or skill taught, demonstrated or gained be unlawfully used to commit terrorism as defined in Subsection C of this section in furtherance of a civil disorder is guilty of a [fourth] third degree felony
The narrow definition may endanger gun stores, ranges, and firearms instructors, as they may be accused of being an accomplice to domestic terrorism, even if they are not. The legislation says these penalties come if an instructor teaches the skill “with the intent that the knowledge or skill taught, demonstrated or gained be unlawfully used to commit terrorism.”
There is no timeline of when an instructor can be held liable, meaning if a client who was taught how to operate a firearm a year ago suddenly goes off the deep-end and shoots up a business in a “domestic terrorism” act, there is no part of the legislation which safeguards the instructor from being charged with a felony.
The very nature of teaching firearms comes with the knowledge that the firearm has the capacity to cause bodily injury and death. So, the vagueness of the bill, which does not offer protection for instructors, could hold the wrong people accountable in this legislation, instead of the bad actors the bill sponsors may be trying to bring to justice.
It should also be noted that the bill text in one section outlines that anyone committing a terrorist act is subject to a second-degree felony. Still, in a subsequent section, the bill outlines that any terrorist threat involving “a school, community center, place of worship or public accommodation” is a third-degree felony. A firearms instructor would be liable for a third-degree felony, meaning the instructor may be punished even harsher than the terrorist if the terrorist’s actions don’t occur in any of the aforementioned places.
Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil received a $1,000 contribution in the 2020 election cycle from anti-gun lobbyist Vanessa Alarid, who is married to a far-left lawmaker, Rep. Mo Maestas. Alarid lobbies on behalf of Everytown For Gun Safety Action Fund, billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s gun-grabbing initiative.