AP Photo/Morgan Lee
A red flag gun seizure bill opposed by the vast majority of the state’s sheriffs and rank and file police officers was narrowly approved by the New Mexico State Senate on Friday on a 22-20 vote. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the controversial bill is expected to pass the House as well, and could get to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk before the legislative session ends in less than two weeks.
“We have an obligation to every single New Mexican, every single family, every single child that we do everything in our power that can provide just that additional layer of safety and public support,” Lujan Grisham said during a news conference after Friday’s vote.
This year’s red flag gun bill, Senate Bill 5, has divided New Mexico’s law enforcement ranks. Thirty of the state’s 33 county sheriffs oppose the measure, while State Police Chief Tim Johnson and top Albuquerque Police Department officials support it.
While “top” officials with the Albuquerque Police Department may support the bill, the rank and file most certainly do not.
Deputy Chief Medina does NOT speak for the rank and file officers of APD, we do, and we are NOT in favor of red flag…
If the measure does become law, expect a court challenge from sheriffs across the state. They’re the ones that will be tasked with serving any Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace has previously told Bearing Arms that he will face a contempt charge rather than confiscate anyone’s firearms under a red flag order.
“We’re really taking a hard stance on it,” the sheriff said of the state sheriffs association’s opposition to the bill. “There are attorneys that don’t like it, that realize the unconstitutionality of them. And again, if these orders come through my office, if we get them, we’re not going to put people at risk. We’re not going to put our officers at risk. And if I have to go to the judge and get held in contempt of court to prove a point, I’m ready. We’re gonna do the right thing here.”
He’ll likely have plenty of company, with 30 of the state’s 33 county sheriffs also opposed to the red flag law. In addition to drawing hundreds of gun owners to the state capitol to lobby lawmakers to axe the proposal, the staunch opposition to the gun confiscation bill has also prompted localities to reject resolutions offered up in support of the red flag language.
Doña Ana County commissioners rejected a resolution supporting the bill in a 3-2 vote on Jan. 28, at a public meeting packed by opponents.
The bill has also stoked opposition from a majority of New Mexico county sheriffs, some of whom participated in a Friday [February 1st] morning press conference organized by the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action and the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association.
Two New Mexico sheriffs, Tony Mace of Cibola County and Shane Ferrari of San Juan County, argued there were already laws on the books allowing law enforcement to intervene in a behavioral health crisis. While Mace stuck to a defense of the second amendment, Ferrari argued that “red flag” court orders would limit his agency’s tactical options and potentially expose deputies to danger.
“These attacks are right out of the left’s playbook, to limit or eliminate our rights as Americans to protect ourselves and we are seeing this plan unfold right in front of our eyes,” Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block said, adding, “They want us to believe they’re protecting us by disarming us in the name of safety.”
While the bill is almost guaranteed to get to Gov. Grisham’s desk for her signature, its future after that remains very much in doubt, and I suspect that the push by anti-gun lawmakers in Santa Fe is going to reignite and reinvigorate the state’s Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, which began in 2019 as the Democrat-controlled legislature imposed universal background checks in the state.