Public urges Aztec City Commission to declare a Second Amendment Preservation City

Some in audience talked of possible council recall

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Diana Mesch prepares to leave the podium Tuesday after speaking against gun control measures during a public forum at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

AZTEC — Community members are urging the Aztec City Commission to follow in the other local municipalities’ footsteps and become a Second Amendment Preservation City.

About 180 community members packed into the Aztec Senior-Community Center Tuesday evening. While a few support the gun control measures passed by the state Legislature this year, the majority of the crowd said they believe these measures violate their Second Amendment rights.

Some attendees went as far as to call for a recall election if the commissioners did not pass a resolution stating city resources will not be used to enforce gun control laws they believe are unconstitutional. These measures will likely be challenged in court to determine their constitutionality.

Mike Padilla, who served as mayor from 1993 until 1997, said that Aztec is not working with other municipalities like it once did.

“Aztec is sticking out like a sore thumb in our community,” Padilla said.

The sole member of the community to speak in favor of the gun control measures was San Juan County Democratic Party Chairwoman MP Schildmeyer, who emphasized that the new laws would not take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

Former Sheriff Ken Christesen speaks Tuesday during a public forum in Aztec.

Many of the people who attended the Tuesday forum admitted they had not voted during the last municipal election. However, they said the gun control debate woke them up and they plan to be more active in local government.

“This old bear is out of hibernation,” Denver Bearden said, emphasizing the play on his last name. “This old grizzly bear is going to be involved in everything in this city.”

An Aztec resident gives commissioners copies of the New Mexico constitution at the end of a public forum Tuesday at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

After the meeting, Mayor Victor Snover said the Second Amendment is very important to Aztec residents and the commissioners are all supportive of the Second Amendment.

“I do think it’s important to look at our gun laws and the way that they’re written,” he said.

Snover served 22 years in the U.S. military and said he owns firearms. He said he does not support taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.

“I do support reasonable measures to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them,” Snover said.

There are two controversial gun control laws that passed this legislative session. One of these laws would require background checks on virtually all gun sales in the state. Community members who spoke out against it on Tuesday said that law is unenforceable and could lead to the state mandating gun registration in the future.

From left, Aztec City Attorney Nicci Unsicker, Commissioner Mark Lewis, Mayor Victor Snover, Commissioner Austin Randall, Commissioner Sherri Sipe and City Clerk Karla Sayler listen to comments Tuesday during a public forum about the Second Amendment at Aztec Senior-Community Center.

The second law would allow a court to order guns be taken away from people convicted of domestic violence offenses or subject to restraining orders. While the bill has not yet been signed into law, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has indicated she will sign it. Community members who spoke against the bill said that law could be used to get revenge in a divorce case or could put police officers’ lives in danger.

Many residents also spoke out against a failed "red flag" law that would have allowed guns to be removed from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

While neither measure that passed this legislative session would take guns from law-abiding citizens, many people expressed fears that their guns could be taken away in the future. Some said requiring background checks could lead to gun registration, which they say would lead to gun confiscation. They said if their guns were taken they would not be able to defend themselves.

“There is no way (law enforcement) can guarantee to get there on time if you take our guns away,” said Nikki Adams.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at