New Mexico – The New Mexico Sheriffs Association was able to help stop red flag gun laws from passing in 2019. Now, lawmakers are trying again.
But the sheriffs are dedicated once again to ensuring their state doesn’t join the other 17, and the District of Columbia, in adding the legislation. The group says that the laws would be both ineffective and unconstitutional.
The legislation would allow law enforcement or relatives to petition the court to take a person’s firearms if they’re in danger of hurting themselves or others. A sworn affidavit would be required to be submitted to the court explaining the reasoning for the request. Guns and ammunition would be returned upon expiration of the order.
Talk of red flag legislation last year sparked sanctuary movements in counties across the state, with many sheriffs saying they would not enforce the laws.
Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton is the liaison for the group. In a statement, he said, “There are existing laws on the books that allow for law enforcement to investigate those individuals engaged in a mental health crisis. I would much rather just transport that person [to a medical facility] than take away one mechanism unconstitutionally and leave him with knives and explosives and anything else that will allow him to carry out his ill will.”
Lincoln County Sheriff Robert Sheppard also spoke out against the legislation.
He said, “We have a duty to follow the Constitution and this bill violates due process, because there is no hearing before the government confiscates possessions. It violates unlawful search and seizure 4th Amendment and the 5th Amendment. Someone can have this happen to them without ever committing a criminal act.”
Sheriff Sheppard continued, “It… gives authorization for a judge to issue a search warrant. They cannot do that, because there are the triers of the facts. As a law enforcement officer, we have to go and swear to the facts to be the officiate for a search warrant. These are misdemeanor charges and you can’t get [a] search warrant for that.”
Last year, background checks were extended in the State of New Mexico to include most private party sales. Additionally, people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.
But that’s not enough, say the anti-gun supporters.
Supporters of this type of law say that they help to reduce gun violence and suicides. Most anti-gun groups say that with fewer guns, there will be less of a chance of more mass shooting events. Of course anti-gun legislators this year are pointing to tragic events from nearby, such as the Walmart shooting in El Paso Texas last August.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is behind the legislation, as she was last year.
She said, “The tragedy of the Walmart shooting is even more deplorable because the shooter, the killer, the murderer published a manifesto before the shooting online, announced his intentions, specifically to target Mexicans, said he wanted to assure Hispanics did not have the voting voice in this country. Yet with that warning, with that manifesto published and known, no action was taken.”
She continued, “This is a temporary removal of a firearm from an individual who poses an extreme risk or threat to themselves or others. [Without the laws,] you can’t have law enforcement engage before a horrific tragedy.”
Representative Daymon Ely is also a proponent of the red flag laws.
“This bill is a good balance between people’s rights to bear arms and public safety,” he said.
Ely says the legislation will help lower the suicide rate, which is 50 percent higher in New Mexico than in the rest of the country. Suicides amount to 70 percent of the state’s firearm deaths.
Chairman of the Sheriff’s Association, Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace, said, “At the end of the day, if you have not committed a crime, you cannot be denied your constitutional right to bear arms. That’s what it boils down to.”
Much like the other 17 states so far, the governor doesn’t particularly care about the sheriffs’ disapproval of the laws.
“Their opposition should not deter anyone who is committed to making our communities safer and ensuring our constitutional right to live in peace,” she said.
Sheriff Shepperd has encouraged gun rights advocates to contact their state senators and representatives to make their opinions heard.
The sheriff says the red flag laws are dangerous.
“We are very serious about protecting the rights of domestic violence victims,” he said, “but we also have to protect the rights of the perpetrators. Each and every one of us must have due process in a court of law.
“This bill takes away that due process. In this bill they even put in the word ‘confiscation.’ They have broadened it from just firearms to ammunition too, to confiscate all ammo in a person’s house too. It doesn’t make the mainstream news that I see, the incidences where an officer goes to enforce their state’s red flag law and they end up in a lethal confrontation with a guy and someone gets killed.
“This is a bad bill.”
The National Rifle Association is also expected to rally against the legislation, as it did last year.
New Mexico’s legislative session begins January 21 and lasts for 30 days.
Virginia is also locked in a tight battle over gun confiscation.
We are hearing that a Virginia state senator has raised alarm bells just a few days before a massive rally is scheduled to be held in Richmond. Thousands are expected on Monday at Capitol Square to express their dissatisfaction with plans by the newly-sworn-in Democratic majority in the General Assembly to impose strict gun laws.
President Trump has also weighed in on the gun grab, tweeting on Friday afternoon.
“Your 2ndAmendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you, Dems!”
Conservative state senator Amanda Chase of District 11 went to Facebook on Friday with a stark warning for anyone who is planning on attending the rally on Monday.
“Does the Patriot Act ring a bell? Does the National Defense Authorization Act ring a bell? Chase is warning pro-Second Amendment activists that under the provisions of those two acts, they could be labeled as “domestic terrorists[s].”
Chase believes that by issuing the state of emergency, Northam is setting the groundwork for going after the pro-gun advocates. She specifically warned those attending the rally who may be wearing military fatigues or displaying military insignia.
“The Governor, using the media has already set the state for this to happen,” she said. “He has already laid the groundwork to make the entire movement look like an insurrection.”
She also said that she doesn’t believe just those wearing camouflage or wearing military insignias have reason for concern.
“They are kicking things into high gear,” she wrote. “Military veterans were/are even listed as potential domestic terrorists. We were told not once, but several times by the current President, ‘It’s Not Me they are after, It’s You, The American People.’”
Northam claims that he has intelligence that some of the groups attending the rally on Monday will be intent on causing problems. The fact that Antifa has said they will show up lends credence to that fact, although they “claim” they will march WITH the pro-gun protesters.
That should actually be a reason to be concerned. Color us skeptical, but would it honestly surprise anyone if Antifa wasn’t actually attending this protest in order to cause a ruckus which would then get blamed on pro-Second Amendment groups? We wouldn’t.
The Richmond-based Antifa Seven Hills is joining the Second Amendment supporter groups in support of gun rights.
“I think it’s been pretty important for us to focus on the fact that gun control in America has a legacy of racist enforcement,” said Seven Hills spokesperson James in speaking to Vice,while asking that his last name be withheld. “Like taking guns away from black people, because black people were perceived as a threat to property and the sanctity of the state.”
He continued, “I think what’s particular about the South is that we have to be a bit more creative and sensitive to the people around us—instead of fulfilling some sort of meme of what antifa is,” James said. “That’s really what we’re trying to work against right now, especially by talking to conservatives and showing we aren’t just a black-clad group of rabble-rousers who are out for attention and have jobs funded by George Soros.”
Sen. Chase may have reason to be concerned about Northam declaring a state of emergency. Northam cited “credible intelligence” of “groups with malicious plans” that planned on attending the rally.
On Thursday, the FBI arrested three suspected neo-Nazis who were planning to attend the rally.One of them was a former Canadian army reservist and all were linked to a group called The Base that aims to establish a state populated only by whites.
Northam referenced the riots that happened in Charlottesville, VA in August of 2017 at the “Unite the Right” rally. That rally turned deadly when a man ran over numerous protesters with his vehicle. A 32-year-old counter-protester was killed.
“We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here.”
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