New Mexico Democrats have been quite vocal recently about what they see as the need for more gun control laws in the state. In 2019 the state approved a “universal background check bill” followed by a “red flag” law in 2020.
Neither law has been used much since they’ve taken effect, however, and in the meantime violent crime across the state has continued to climb, with Albuquerque reaching a record high number of homicides last year.
The Democrats’ focus on reducing and criminalizing legal gun ownership is paying dividends for law breakers, unfortunately, and the state’s criminal justice system continues to deliver sweetheart plea deals for responsible for some pretty serious crimes. The latest example comes from Albuquerque, where a man who shot at police officers in April of 2019 learned this week that he won’t be spending any time in prison for his crime.
Officers found [Dominic] Detwiler on the steps of a northeast Albuquerque apartment complex. He was the suspect in a home invasion and a 911 call said he was armed.
Officer: “Keep your hands out.”
Detwiler: “You’re going to have to shoot me dog. Do it.”
Video shows Detwiler refused to comply with commands from officers, and then he fires. Officers shot back, hitting him twice.
Detwiler spent two years on house arrest with a GPS monitor and took a plea deal back in June.
“Mr. Detwiler has done extremely well on supervision. He has maintained and abided by the very strictest of conditions and has only left for his medical appointments, which you know he has had to get some medical treatments due to the fact that he was left a paraplegic as the result of this incident,” said the defense attorney.
Under the deal, his jail time was capped at two years, followed by three years of probation.
Prosecutors agreed that Detwiler’s house arrest could count towards his two-year sentence, which means that as of now he’s simply on probation and is free to move about the city and state.
I realize that Detwiler is now a paraplegic after officers fired back after he shot at them, but I don’t think that’s reason enough to keep him out of prison. It’s not like his physical injuries were meted out by the justice system as punishment for his crimes. They were a direct response to his attempt to shoot police officers. And while I’m glad that he has kept himself out of trouble over the past two years, it seems to me that house arrest and GPS monitoring is a punishment that doesn’t begin to match the severity of the crime he committed.
Meanwhile, New Mexico Democrats continue to ignore cases like Detwiler’s while calling for more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners and panning the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the right to carry a firearm in self-defense.
Mayor Alan Webber blasted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to strike down a gun control law in New York City and said Santa Fe intends to press ahead with gun buyback events and to develop measures that would bar firearms from city buildings and other public spaces.
“At a time when cities across the country are doing everything within their power to reduce gun violence, the right wing of the Supreme Court has delivered a decision that thumbs its nose at gun safety and embraces the ideology of the NRA,” Webber wrote in an email. “If nothing else, this decision is a reminder that commonsense gun safety measures will have to be undertaken for us and by us.”
… Miranda Viscoli, co-president of the nonprofit New Mexican to Prevent Gun Violence, said while most concealed carry permit owners are “very safe gun owners,” she worries the high court’s decision could lead to an increase in bad actors who might now be able to access concealed carry permits.
“What can possibly go wrong?” she said.
“I can’t imagine how law enforcement will be OK with this,” Viscoli added. “We just made their job much more unsafe.”
Given Viscoli’s apparent concern about officer safety, you might think that New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence would have weighed in on Detwiler’s plea deal allowing him to avoid prison after shooting at police. Nope. The group is apparently too busy promoting an upcoming gun “buyback” to bother with any objections to Detwiler’s sentence.
As long as New Mexico lawmakers view legal gun owners and guns themselves as the fundamental barrier to greater public safety, I don’t expect the state’s rising homicide rates to see much improvement. Anti-gun politicians are aiming their legislative fire in the wrong direction, and its the law-abiding who’ll pay the biggest price for their unwillingness to get serious about violent crime.