Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the NM Red Flag law on Tuesday. The controversial law passed both house and Senate in New Mexico by slim margins (House vote 39-31, Senate vote 22-20). (Taos News). With her signature, the Gov issued a threat to law enforcement officers:
“They cannot not enforce. And if they really intend to do that, they should resign as a law enforcement officer and leader in that community… The Legislature had the strength to pass this measure because we all recognize: Enough is enough. This law is sensible and balanced. It is a good public safety measure. If it saves even one life, and it will, we will have done good work here.” NM Gov Grisham
Will it save one life, or destroy many?
The NM Red Flag law allows police to petition the court for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order.” But that petition is based on sworn affidavits from “school administrators, employers, or relatives” (CBS). It removes firearms from persons deemed a threat to themselves or others without being accused of a crime, or charged with one. And there is no hearing at the moment of gun seizure.
A hearing is set for 10 days later, and can ban the person from their gun rights for one year.
New Mexico sheriffs have been loathe to enforce such a law, because they say that it seizes guns without due process, and places their deputies at serious risk for their lives. As for the Governor’s threat, New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association President Tony Mace of Cibola County stated:
“Citizens have a right to bear arms and we cannot circumvent that right when they have not even committed a crime or even been accused of committing one. ‘Shall not be infringed’ is a very clear and concise component of an Amendment that our forefathers felt was important enough to be recognized immediately following freedom of speech and religion…
…We will enforce the law at our discretion. We don’t work for the governor, we don’t work for the Legislature. We work for the people that elected us into office.”
The NM Red flag law also carries a penalty for law enforcement officers who fail to enforce it. It contains a provision in which the District Attorney can petition the court if the Sheriffs or other law enforcement refuse to act on it. But LEOs can be held liable for that refusal under the new law.
On Tuesday, Roosevelt County joined in the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement. They joined 12 other New Mexico Counties that also state they will not enforce unconstitutional gun laws. Of the 33 Sheriffs in New Mexico, 29 stand against these laws.
“My biggest fear for the law is violating someone’s constitutional rights and the potential for placing my deputies in a situation for an encounter with an armed individual.” Sheriff Steve Reams, Weld County in 2019
The Sheriffs plan to challenge the law in court.
“We tried to debate it in the Legislature and we were battling politics and money from the outside. Maybe we’ll have a fairer chance in the judicial system as far as the constitutionality of it.” Sheriff Tony Mace
Here is the crux of the problem with these laws and all other gun control: outside money and politics. Democrats, and anti-gun groups backed by big money have literally targeted states, particularly if they’ve had a mass shooting of any kind, and are pushing hard. They see an opportunity and they are not letting it go by. In New Mexico, Moms Demand Action has plans for a year long campaign to “advise” the public of their options under this law. The law goes into effect on May 20, 2020.
Featured photo: Screenshot from KRQE/Blue Lives Matter