New Mexico Governor Signs ‘Red Flag’ Gun Bill, Urges Sheriffs to Enforce or Resign

February 27, 2020 Updated: February 27, 2020
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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a “red flag” gun bill on Feb. 25 that will allow state courts to order the temporary surrender of firearms from individuals who are deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others.

The “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act,” would allow district courts, at the request of police officers receiving information from family members or friends, to put into effect an “extreme risk protection order”  (ERPO). Such an ERPO will enable removing the firearms from the individual’s possession for a period no longer than one year unless renewed.

Grisham commended the state legislature in a statement for having “the strength to pass this measure.”

“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. This law is sensible and balanced. It is a good public safety measure. If it saves even one life, and it will, we will have done good work here,” she said.

The bill has faced opposition from a number of law enforcement officials in the state, including New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association President Tony Mace, who, on Feb. 23, released a statement saying that “modern red flag laws deny responsible gun owner’s notice or a chance to defend themselves against an initial confiscation order.”

Indicating he might not enforce the bill, Mace continued: “A judge may issue the order after an uncontested hearing. In some states, the person seeking the order is held to a relatively low burden of proof and with no real consequences of false allegations. Citizens have a right to bear arms, and we cannot circumvent that right when they have not committed a crime or even been accused of committing one.”

Grisham told reporters that law enforcement leaders “cannot not enforce” and those that “intend to do that … should resign as a law enforcement officer and leader in that community,” CNN reported.

Anamaria Dahl, a volunteer leader with the New Mexico chapter of the gun control advocacy group, Moms Demand Action, applauded the signing of the new law and said she’s grateful to Grisham and “all the gun sense champions in the legislature for listening to New Mexicans and fighting to keep our families and communities safe.”

After an application is submitted for an ERPO, the individual will be given written notice and an opportunity to be heard on the matter, according to the legislation, which comes into effect in mid-May and will make New Mexico the 18th state to enact such a law.

Other law enforcement officials, including Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal, backed the signing, recalling an incident in which a gunman killed two students at Aztec High School in December 2017.

“Two of my heroes died that day a horrific death,” Heal said. “I will never forget it, and I will never stop pushing for the safety of our children.”