A New Mexico gun rights advocacy group and local Republican legislators Wednesday voiced firm opposition to a proposed gun safety bill endorsed by the governor and some Democratic lawmakers.
For an hour and a half on Wednesday, local officials and representatives from the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association railed against the so-called red flag bill at a legislative strategy session, hosted by the group at the New Mexico Fish and Game office in Roswell.
Zachary Fort, president of the Shooting Sports Association, said thwarting passage of the bill is his group’s top priority in the coming legislative session.
“We want to see it defeated. We are not just trying to amend it, we want to see the bill defeated plain and simple,” Fort said.
The Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act, also known as Senate Bill 5, would allow law enforcement officers or relatives to petition to temporarily take the firearms and ammunition of someone — who it can be demonstrated through probable cause — represents a danger to themselves or other people.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday in Las Cruces that the Senate bill would be on her call for the 2020 legislative session, framing it as a tool to ensure public safety.
“With the support of the Legislature and committed advocates and community members all across the state, I look forward to enacting this and other measures in the coming legislative session that will enhance New Mexicans’ safety and well-being and bolster our collective right to be safe in our communities,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release Wednesday.Wednesday.In
In all, 17 states and the District of Columbia have similar measures in place, commonly known as “Red Flag laws.”
The proposal though is not without its critics.
Fort said the bill would not only trample on the Second Amendment rights of New Mexicans, but other rights.
Some said it would reduce the rights to due process. Others said that it is something that is not workable.
“I understand and appreciate what they are trying to do, but I don’t think it practically works,” said State Sen. Bill Bert, R-Alamogordo.
Mike Herrington, Chaves County Sheriff, told the crowd that the new law is not needed and that there are already laws in place that penalize people who use firearms in the commission of crimes.
The law, he added, could also open his office up to liability.
People required to bring a weapon to the sheriff will have their weapons likely placed in an area that is not likely climate-controlled and firearms are prone to damage over a long period of time, something that could open the sheriff’s office and counties to liability issues.
“And guess who you will want to sue after that? Me, because I don’t have the adequate storage to keep law-abiding citizens’ guns who have just been issued a restraining order for whatever reason it is,” Herrington said.
State Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, and the chief Republican in the New Mexico House of Representatives said the bill and other gun control measures would serve only to inconvenience law-abiding citizens for the crimes of a few people.
Townsend predicted that the proposal for extreme firearm risk protection orders will be debated vigorously in the upcoming session.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.