A bill that would make threatening a mass shooting a criminal misdemeanor has passed the New Mexico Senate and made its way to the state House of Representatives.

N.M. Sen. Craig Brandt

State Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, sponsored Senate Bill 34. It passed the Senate on a 34-5 vote Friday.

It must pass the House by noon Thursday, when the 30-day session ends, and then be signed by the governor to become law. As of mid-day Monday, the legislature website held no indication the measure had been assigned to any House committees, the normal procedure before the whole legislative chamber votes on a bill.

The bill defines making a shooting threat as “falsely and maliciously” threatening to bring or use a gun with the intent of frightening people, interrupting the use of a public building or causing a response by an emergency agency. Under the legislation, the person convicted of making the threat would face criminal penalties, and a court could order the person to reimburse the victim for economic harm caused by the threat.

“We all want to stop the next mass tragedy,” said Brandt, a former Rio Rancho Public Schools board member and current Senate minority whip, in a news release. “This issue is far and above one of the most agreed-upon bills I have introduced in my career. Like me, most cannot fathom why there is no current law barring the threat of mass violence with a firearm.

“Such a loophole has real-world effects, particularly at schools, where students are scarred by lockdown protocol while no action is taken to hold the responsible party accountable. It is my sincere hope that this bill will move quickly through the House and be signed into law for the benefit of the public at large.”

Brandt, who’s been a state senator since 2013, has been working to get such a law passed for much of his tenure in the legislature. In February 2018, a shooting threat made via the social media platform Snap Chat led to police searching the Rio Rancho High School campus and many parents keeping students at the school home that day.

To contact a state representative regarding the bill, visit nmlegis.gov/Members/Legislator_List?T=R for contact information. For more information about the legislation, visit nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?Chamber=S&LegType=B&LegNo=34&year=22.