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News from 2022-2023

Posted: March 30, 2023

DA: Don't Ruin Your Life by Bringing a Gun to a School

Bregman says anyone caught will be arrested, prosecuted

District Attorney Sam Bregman holds up a gun-free zone sign at a news conference on Wednesday.

District Attorney Sam Bregman holds up a gun-free zone sign at a news conference on Wednesday.

Prosecutors, top cops, and school and community leaders came together on Wednesday to deliver a stark warning: bringing a firearm onto a school campus will result in severe consequences.

Having a gun on a school campus is illegal under state law, and federal law goes even further, making it illegal to have a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school.

“There will be zero tolerance and no excuses,” District Attorney Sam Bregman warned during a news conference. “Don’t even think about bringing a gun on school grounds in Bernalillo County. You will be arrested and you will be prosecuted for a felony.”

Bregman pledged to have a prosecutor on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to work with police on charges whenever a gun is discovered on a campus. He noted that he and U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez are committed to “working hand-in-hand in prosecuting any adults with firearms on school grounds.”

As for underage students, he said they would be charged with a felony in juvenile court.  

“My message to every student, to every member of this community, especially to the students, you may think that somehow bringing a gun to school might be cool,” Bregman said. “But it’s not. Don’t ruin your life by bringing a gun onto a school campus.”

Already this year, APS has dealt with 13 incidents involving guns on its campuses. Superintendent Scott Elder called the situation unacceptable, saying that it’s disruptive to student learning and has left many APS staff members, students and their families fearing for their safety.

“We’ve had a steady chorus of students and staff demanding that we do something about the gun threats on their campuses, and the fact that each of you has taken the time to be here shows that you’re listening,” Elder told Bregman, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, and the other community leaders at the news conference.

Beyond the crackdown on anyone bringing a gun to a school, officials announced that Bernalillo County would be producing metal “gun-free zone” signs to post at every school putting everyone on notice that bringing a gun onto campus is illegal. County Manager Julie Morgas Baca estimated that they would be up in a couple of months.

Bregman also said that police and prosecutors would be going into classrooms next school year to talk to students about the criminal justice system with an emphasis on guns.

Elder stressed that guns in schools is a community problem and a national problem. He pointed to the school shooting last week in Denver in which two staff members were wounded and the shooting this week at a Nashville Christian school that left three children and three adults dead.

Chief Medina agreed.

“This isn’t an APS problem,” Medina said. “This isn’t an Albuquerque Police Department problem. This is a city of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, state of New Mexico (problem). This is something that is plaguing the entire nation.”

Uballez, a father of three, said hearing about lives snuffed out at schools strikes at his core. He said everyone deserves to feel safe, particularly children.

“Our children deserve open playgrounds,” Uballez said. “They deserve to not have to walk through metal detectors, they deserve schools that don’t look like prisons. This is our city. This is our home. Let’s treat it with respect.”

He also urged everyone to be vigilant and to speak up if they see or hear something.

“Let’s watch for warning signs,” Uballez said. “Let’s alert law enforcement. Let’s not assume that somebody else will step up to prevent this. We must stand together for this community. Stand with us. Our children’s lives depend on it.”

The law, according to District Attorney Sam Bregman:

  • A child finds his dad’s gun on the coffee table, takes it to school, and brandishes it to a classmate. In that scenario, both the child and the parent will be prosecuted. The Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, named after a Washington Middle School student killed at school in 2021, would also come into play beginning in June. Lawmakers and the governor enacted the law this year, making it a crime when someone fails to store firearms out of the reach of children. I support the Second Amendment, but we need responsible gun owners.
  • A parent stores his gun in his vehicle and doesn’t take it out of the vehicle. His child then drives that vehicle to school. It’s a felony to bring a gun on campus. There are no exceptions to that.
  • Anyone who has a firearm on them within 1,000 feet of a school is committing a federal crime.
Tags: Core Schools