NM Gov Backing Red Flag Law, But Sheriffs Say "No"
AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File

A fight over “red flag” legislation is brewing in New Mexico, where Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is backing a bill that would allow for the seizure of firearms from those deemed by a judge to be danger to themselves or others. The state’s sheriff’s association is opposed to the measure, and they’re vowing to fight the proposed legislation at the statehouse. From KOAT-TV:

The New Mexico Sheriff’s Association told Target 7 they plan to fight the bill. They said it puts law enforcement officers at risk because they are the ones who will ultimately have to serve a search warrant and confiscate the weapons.

“They call it the extreme risk protection order. Well, they got the right name because it is exactly an extreme risk,” said Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace, who is also president of the Sheriff’s Association. “You are going to be putting citizens and law enforcement officers in an extreme risk.”

The Sheriff’s Association has fought the governor on other gun proposals. Last year, 30 of the state’s 33 sheriffs opposed the state’s new background check law saying they would not enforce it.

Mace said if the new law passes, sheriffs would have to enforce it because they have to legally execute search warrants and court orders.

Even with Democrats in control of the legislature and the governor’s office, there’s no guarantee the “red flag” proposal will become law. As KOAT notes, a similar bill filed last year failed to make it out of committee, and this year’s legislative session in New Mexico only lasts for 30 days, which isn’t a lot of time.

It’s not just sheriffs who are concerned about the new law. Mark Abramson, a gun store owner and attorney in the state, told KOAT that he’s worried subjects of a red flag order could unknowingly violate the prohibition on them owning or purchasing firearms.

“If someone comes into the shop, they look like they are totally in control of themselves, they select a gun, fill out the paperwork and if they pass the background check they will leave with a gun,” Abramson said. “We have no way of knowing if they are subject to that order.”

In addition to the concerns outlined above, the proposal makes no mention of any sort of mental health evaluation or treatment for those determined to be a danger to themselves or others. As is the case with almost every other “red flag’ law, the subject of the order has their firearms seized, but is left with their knives, pills, belts, car keys, gasoline, and matches. It’s a gun control bill, not a mental health measure.

New Mexico’s legislative session kicks off on January 21st, but gun owners in the state should be contacting their lawmakers now and urging them to reject the measure.