Anti-gun activists oddly uninterested in accused killer's light sentence on gun charges

AP Photo/Morgan Lee

There’s been very little polling of the New Mexico governor’s race, but incumbent Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and her anti-gun allies at Moms Demand Action are certainly acting like Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti has a real chance at victory.

At a Thursday news conference hosted by the state Democratic Party, activists from Moms Demand Action tried to deflect attention away from a scandal surrounding the release of a man from prison just four days before he shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, instead bizarrely claiming that the real scandal is that Ronchetti doesn’t support a ban on so-called assault weapons and praising Grisham for signing several gun control bills into law; restrictions that have done absolutely nothing to reduce the state’s violent crime rate, which has been trending in the wrong direction for the past several years.

Since 1992, New Mexico’s violent crime rate has remained at least 19% above the national average and “for the past three years it has been more than twice the national rate,” the LFC reports.

The primary driver of New Mexico’s violent crime rate is Albuquerque, which saw a record number of homicides last year at 117 and a 167% rise between 2014 and 2020.

But from 2016 to 2020, the LFC reports, Albuquerque joined at least 19 small- to medium-sized cities and towns in seeing an increase in the rate of violent crime. In many of those communities, violent crime rates exceeded the national average. Some of the communities with the highest spikes included Gallup, Farmington, Española, and in the southeast, Roswell, Clovis and Portales.

Every time Grisham has signed a gun control bill into law she’s declared it will make the state a safer place; a blatant lie that’s readily apparent just by looking at the state’s crime statistics over the past few years.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence that violent criminals are getting softer sentences than they should be, which you’d think would be a concern of gun control activists like the red-shirted moms who showed up at the Democrats’ press conference on Thursday. Instead, they seem completely uninterested in discussing the case of Christopher Beltran and why he was released from prison after serving just a fraction of his sentence on gun charges. During the Democrats’ event, a former prosecutor tried to pin the blame on the D.A. for not charging Beltran with more serious offenses to begin with, but never really offered an explanation about why Beltran was released early on at least one and possibly two separate occasions.

Beltran got out of prison 12 days early in September 2020 under an executive order the governor issued in April of that year as officials tried to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 inside the state’s correctional facilities. Beltran was arrested the following month for violating the conditions of his parole and sent back to prison for a 2 1/2-year sentence.

He served about nine months of that stint. Four days after his release in June 2021, Beltran shot and killed his ex-girlfriend in Roswell. He has since pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces up to 12 years in prison.

Questions remain about why Beltran was released early the second time. Luce has said the governor’s administration miscalculated when it came to awarding Beltran good time for his sentence. The Department of Corrections contends he was released after completing the entirety of his sentence, which included a reduction of nearly five months for good time.

… Some members of a New Mexico branch of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization formed to address gun violence, also spoke at the event in support of Lujan Grisham, saying the governor has signed several bills into law to reduce gun violence.

New Mexico Moms Demand Action spokeswoman Arielle Giddens said Ronchetti was “soft on crime” because, among other reasons, he has not called for a ban on the sale of automatic weapons.

I assume that the local reporter covering the press conference has no idea of the difference between automatic weapons and “assault weapons,” but I suppose it’s also possible that the Moms Demand Action activist doesn’t know the difference either and used that specific phrase. Either way, the bigger problem for Moms Demand Action is that their position is utterly incomprehensible. Even for gun control supporters, what is the point of creating new crimes out of the right to keep and bear arms if the criminal justice system is treating illegal gun possession by those convicted of a crime a minor offense?

More importantly, what do you think the average voter who’s concerned about crime believes is a “softer” position; objecting to creating a new criminal offense by making it illegal to sell the most commonly-sold rifle in the country or the fact that as crime is increasing criminals are catching an awful lot of “lucky” breaks from the Democrats in complete control of state government?

The ham-handed appearance by Moms Demand Actions did little-to-nothing to shore up Grisham’s campaign, but it did provide us with yet another reminder that these activists aren’t really trying to reduce crime, but to curtail and criminalize your right to protect yourself instead.