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Committee passes Second Amendment resolution at city level

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Roswell City Council members Barry Foster, left, and George Peterson, right, at a meeting of the City Council’s Legal Committee Tuesday at city hall. The committee approved a resolution by a vote of 3 to 1 to make Roswell a Second Amendment Sanctuary City. The resolution will be taken up by the full City Council later in March. (Alex Ross Photo)

The city’s Legal Committee voted 3 to 1 to recommend adoption of a resolution in support of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and declare Roswell a Second Amendment Sanctuary City.

City Council members Barry Foster, Judy Stubbs and Savino Sanchez — who sit on the committee — voted for the resolution. Committee member George Peterson voted against the resolution, which will next go before the full City Council at a meeting in March.

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners voted 5 to 0 at its meeting last Thursday, which said they will not appropriate or authorize the use of county employees, resources or facilities to enforce any laws that conflict with the right of people to keep and bear arms.

Foster came up with the idea for the resolution at the city level to show solidarity with Chaves County.

“I thought it was important for the City Council to stand up and say we support the county’s actions,” Foster said at the meeting.

In recent weeks, 21 counties have adopted similar resolutions as the New Mexico State Legislature is considering several controversial gun safety bills this session. City councils in Farmington and Española have adopted similar resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties.

Foster and other opponents of the bills — such as one that would require federal background checks for nearly all gun sales in New Mexico — say the bills under debate are unenforceable and infringe upon people’s rights to keep and bear arms.

“It’s attacking the Second Amendment,” Foster said. “It is not designed to make anything safer, it’s just attacking gun owners.”

Not all members agreed. Peterson, a former gun store owner, laid a handgun out on the table during the meeting and said as a gun owner, he supports the Second Amendment, but worries that Roswell declaring itself a Second Amendment sanctuary city sends a bad message to criminals, that the city will not enforce gun laws.

“All you are doing is telling felons to come here and buy guns in Roswell,” Peterson said.

Sanchez asked if it is possible for the state to force the city to enforce the laws should they be signed into law. Aaron Holloman, attorney for the city, said technically there are ways the state could go about trying to make the city enforce them, but that if the laws are passed, the state will likely face a court challenge.

“So the state’s interest in trying to force 21 counties and two cities to bend to their will is a lot less than trying to get that lawsuit resolved,” he said.

Councilor Juan Oropesa, who does not sit on the committee but was at the meeting, said he thinks the committee is getting ahead of itself, and that, at this point, the city is not a body that can determine whether the law, if it does pass, is or is not constitutional.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.