(CNSNews.com) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, signed a bill on Wednesday expanding his state's concealed carry law.
House Bill 641, the Right-to-Carry Reform Bill, lowers the minimum age for permit applicants from 25 to 21; it makes concealed-carry licenses good for four years instead of two; and it allows police to enter into reciprocal agreements with other right-to-carry states.
"These changes will encourage more law abiding New Mexicans to apply for a license and protect themselves in a lawful, responsible manner," said Chris W. Cox, NRA's chief lobbyist.
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) also applauded Gov. Richardson for signing a bill that it describes as a true reform measure.
"The law recognizes that young adults have just as much right to self-defense as older citizens, and that 21-year-olds in New Mexico are just as responsible as 21-year-olds in other states who are already legally-licensed to carry," said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron.
"If they are old enough to carry a firearm to defend this nation, they're certainly old enough to carry a firearm to defend themselves," he added.
Gov. Richardson pushed for the original concealed carry law two years ago, Waldron noted. "Now he's signed common-sense reform legislation that expands this law, with the understanding that it will deter criminals and empower more New Mexico citizens to protect themselves."
House Bill 641, sponsored by State Rep. John Heaton (D), received strong bipartisan support.
"We would hope that governors in a few other states, namely Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois and Kansas, will take a lesson from Gov. Richardson," Waldron said. "Personal protection is not a right that stops at a state's borders, nor is it any less important for people in the upper Midwest than it is in the Southwest."
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms says it is dedicated to preserving firearms freedoms through active lobbying of elected officials and facilitating grass-roots organization of gun rights activists in local communities throughout the United States.