Otero County Commission approves resolution opposing 'red flag' law
A red-flag bill is making its way through the State Senate with the support of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Las Cruces Sun-News
The Otero County Commission took a stance against two proposed gun control bills being considered by New Mexico legislators this session.
Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution on Thursday voicing opposition to a proposed law they said "will make criminals of innocent citizens."
"I'm very much in support of the Second Amendment and a lot of shooting happens around here. This is why I brought it: mainly to show our opposition to it and to show support for our sheriff," Otero County Commission Vice Chairwoman Lori Bies said.
The Legislature is currently considering passage of Senate Bill 5, Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act. Its sister bill is House Bill 7.
Otero County joins Torrance County, which on Feb. 12 passed a similarly worded resolution.
On Jan. 28, Doña Ana County Commissioners declined to pass a resolution in support of the bills. The City of Albuquerque considered a resolution in support as well following the shooting death of 22 people in an El Paso, Texas Walmart.
'We're going to get sued'
Otero County Sheriff David Black briefed the commission on the updated red flag law scheduled for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Black said he fears that it will open the county up to lawsuits.
"They're gonna be looking at qualified immunity. We're going to get sued. The county's going to get sued. That's all there is to it," Black said.
Qualified immunity is used as a defense for actions performed in an official capacity.
Black is not alone in his fears. On Wednesday the Hobbs News-Sun reported Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton publicly stated he would rather go to jail than enforce the new gun laws.
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Bills 'negate the golden thread of the common law'
The resolution compares the proposed gun bills to the Court of the Star Chamber, a medieval English court system that was used into the 17th century to enforce unpopular ecclesiastical or political policies and was thus seen as a form of oppression.
"Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 7 negate the golden thread of the common law guaranteed by the United States and New Mexico Constitutions that all men are innocent until proven guilty by creating a system that allows a court to hear only untested accusations from a wide range of persons, including grandparents-in-law and ex-boyfriends, to strip citizens of a constitutional right," the resolution states.
Another point the resolution makes is that the act "will make criminals of innocent citizens and deprive them of due process of law because the bills make it a strict liability criminal offense for gun-owners living with a person made subject to a Red Flag order to not secure their guns," the resolution states.
Nicole Maxwell can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 575-415-6605 or on Twitter at @nicmaxreporter.