AP Photo/Morgan Lee
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed red flag legislation into law on Tuesday, and told sheriffs who oppose the law that they should resign if they won’t enforce any gun seizure orders. The vast majority of the state’s sheriffs spoke out in opposition to the legislation before it was narrowly approved by the state legislature, and the head of the state sheriffs association rejected Grisham’s call to resign after her remarks during the signing ceremony.
New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association President Tony Mace of Cibola County 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.”
Sheriff Mace has told Bearing Arms that he’s willing to face contempt charges before he’ll seize anyone’s firearms under a red flag order, and he and other sheriffs have vowed to challenge the law in court as well.
Gun control activists in the state, meanwhile, say they plan on launching a public awareness campaign to let residents know how easy it is to file a red flag petition.
The gun-control advocacy group Moms Demand Action is planning a yearslong campaign to publicize the law and outline how people can petition law enforcement for extreme risk protection orders, said Emelie DeAngelis, a state chapter leader.
She 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, she said.
District Attorneys may be able to petition the courts, but it’s still going to be up to the sheriffs to serve the orders and confiscate firearms. Eventually gun control advocates are going to have to accept that the law enforcement tasked with applying the law are almost uniformly opposed to the law being on the books in the first place.
Gov. Grisham also used the signing ceremony, attended by several gun control activists in the state, to tout what the red flag law will do for public safety and suicide prevention once it takes effect.
“New Mexico has balanced individual rights and public safety in a responsible way that will reduce our unacceptable suicide rate and other forms of gun violence,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement after signing the bill into law. “The Legislature had the strength to pass this measure because we all recognize: Enough is enough. And we have the power to change the dynamic of gun violence in our communities. Today we are standing up – we do not accept the status quo; we do not accept the risk posed by dangerous armed individuals who have articulated their desire to cause harm.”
Grisham says the red flag law will lower the state’s suicide rate, which would be a first. Even in states like Indiana and Connecticut, which have had red flag laws on the books for years, suicides are increasing.
Unfortunately, too many politicians like Grisham see red flag legislation as a cheap way of “doing something” about suicide, without actually doing something that works. Last year, the federal government warned that New Mexico’s mental health system was in dire need of improvement, but rather than address the lack of care and services available for those in crisis, Democrat lawmakers in New Mexico decided to take the guns and leave the person in crisis alone with their knives, pills, belts, and anything else they can use to harm themselves or others.
It won’t work to save lives, but it did get Gov. Grisham a photo op. In my opinion, that’s hardly worth the violation of New Mexicans’ due process and Second Amendment rights. Thankfully, many sheriffs agree, and I wish them well in their continued opposition to the state’s new red flag law.