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NRA and conservative legal group sue Democrat governor over 7-day waiting period to buy guns

The Mountain States Legal Foundation and the National Rifle Association have filed a lawsuit challenging New Mexico's seven-day waiting period to purchase a firearm.

FIRST ON FOX — A conservative legal group and gun rights activists have teamed up to challenge a newly-enacted seven-day waiting period to buy a gun in New Mexico.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) has partnered with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that claims New Mexico is denying citizens their Second Amendment rights and their natural right to self-defense. The groups allege in court documents that the waiting period law passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is unconstitutional. 

"This arbitrary law is just the latest attempt by Governor Grisham and her anti-gun comrades in the New Mexico legislature to limit the Second Amendment rights of their law-abiding constituents," said Mike McCoy, director of the Center to Keep and Bear Arms at MSLF. 

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico names Grisham and New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez (D) as defendants. 

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Grisham signed House Bill 129 into law in March, and it went into effect on Wednesday, enacting a mandatory seven-day waiting period for the purchase of firearms. During this time, sellers are required to conduct a federal instant background check of the buyer. Should the background check take longer than seven days, the seller must wait to transfer the firearm to the purchaser until the background check is completed.

Violators would be found guilty of a misdemeanor, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

"This legislation strikes at the heart of issues that are keeping New Mexicans up at night," Grisham said in a statement after signing the bill. "We are losing far too many lives when guns get into the wrong hands and violent criminals are allowed to recommit again and again. This legislation addresses both."

In court documents, plaintiffs Paul Samuel Ortega and Rebecca Scott, both residents of New Mexico, assert the Waiting Period Act "burdens the right to keep and bear arms." Plaintiffs also claim the state government "could never meet its burden to establish a historical analogue to justify its regulation." 

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The lawsuit references the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2022 decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which established a new standard to determine whether a gun restriction is unconstitutional. To meet that standard, the government must show there is a "historical tradition of firearm regulation" that supports the sort of law in question. 

Since Bruen, a multitude of federal and state gun control measures have been challenged in courts with mixed results. 

"The Second Amendment protects a private right of individuals to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense; but this ridiculous waiting period law delays the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise this God-given right," McCoy told Fox News Digital. 

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"Forcing domestic violence victims in need of a firearm to protect themselves to wait seven days to acquire one is wrong, and let's hope their abusers 'wait a week' too before they attack again," he added. 

"The NRA is proud to team up with the Mountain States Legal Foundation to challenge New Mexico’s waiting period law," said Randy Kozuch, Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. "This new law is a clear violation of the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding New Mexicans, and the NRA is committed to seeing that this unconstitutional law be wiped from the state statutes."

The MSLF stated that plaintiffs "seek nothing short of a complete invalidation of the law by the federal courts, and a return to constitutional sensibility." 

The offices of the governor and the attorney general did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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