by WorldTribune Staff, February 26, 2020
Whether they oppose the state’s new gun control measures or not, New Mexico’s sheriffs must enforce it, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said after signing a red-flag gun bill into law on Tuesday.
The law will allow courts to order the temporary confiscation of firearms. Failure to relinquish firearms as ordered is a misdemeanor that can lead authorities to remove weapons from homes.
Several New Mexico sheriffs opposed the bill in committee hearings, saying it is a violation of constitutional guarantees to due process, free speech and the right to bear arms.
New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association President Tony Mace said the new law goes too far by potentially impounding guns before any crime is committed and that he and other sheriffs will assert their discretion over its enforcement.
“We don’t work for the governor, we don’t work for the Legislature,” he said. “We work for the people that elected us into office.”
Lujan Grisham urged sheriffs to resign if they refuse to enforce the new law.
The governor said sheriffs should have the opportunity to oppose any recommended policy change, but “they cannot not enforce. If they really intend to do that, they should resign as a law enforcement officer and leader in that community.”
The legislation allows police and sheriffs deputies to petition a court for the surrender of household firearms within 48 hours from people who appear to pose a danger to themselves or others.
Petitions can be based on sworn affidavits filed by relatives, employers or school administrators, and authorities can be held liable for officers who fail to enforce the law.
The gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action plans to publicize the new law and outline how people can petition law enforcement for extreme risk protection orders, said Emelie DeAngelis, a state chapter leader.
DeAngelis said her group is emphasizing that district attorneys can seek red-flag orders from judges in areas where sheriffs may show reluctance.
“We were really adamant that particularly with our sheriffs’ situation — a lot of them saying that they don’t want to enforce this — that the DAs had to stay in” the law, DeAngelis said.