Santa Fe, NM – New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared that law enforcement officers who refuse to enforce the state’s newly-enacted “red flag” law should resign from their positions.
Grisham signed the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act into law on Tuesday, thereby giving courts the power to temporarily seize firearms from citizens who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, CNN reported.
Just days before, New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association (MNSA) President Tony Mace, who is also the sheriff of Cibola County, issued a public letter questioning the constitutionality of the legislation.
“Citizens have a right to bear arms and we cannot circumvent that right when they have not even committed a crime or even been accused of committing one,” Sheriff Mace said. “‘Shall not be infringed’ is a very clear and concise component of an Amendment that our forefathers felt was important enough to be recognized immediately following freedom of speech and religion.”
Earlier in February, Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton noted that many sheriffs are concerned about stripping citizens of their Second Amendment rights without a hearing, according to CNN.
Around the same timeframe, Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton said he would rather go serve time in jail than enforce the law, The New Mexican reported.
In 2019, Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said he was worried about the risks enforcing such a law posed for his deputies, according to CNN.
“My biggest fear for the law is violating someone’s constitutional rights and the potential for placing my deputies in a situation for an encounter with an armed individual,” Sheriff Reams explained.
But as she signed off on the legislation on Tuesday, Grisham said that law enforcement officers no longer have a choice in the matter, CNN reported.
“They cannot not enforce,” she told reporters. “And if they really intend to do that, they should resign as a law enforcement officer and leader in that community.”
“The Legislature had the strength to pass this measure because we all recognize: Enough is enough,” the governor said in a statement. “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.”
Grisham said she was giving law enforcement “another tool in the toolbox” by signing the legislation, The New Mexican reported.
Under the new law, only law enforcement officers will be allowed to petition the court to temporarily seize someone’s firearms, CNN reported.
The court must have sufficient evidence to determine that the individual “poses a significant danger of causing imminent personal injury to self or others,” according to the law.
But the information used to support such action may be based on sworn affidavits filed by school administrators, employers, or relatives, the Associated Press reported.
If law enforcement officers fail to act on those affidavits, they can be held liable for refusing to enforce the law, according to the Associated Press.
Within 10 days of the issuance of a “red flag” order, the court must hold a hearing to determine whether or not to strip the accused citizen of his or her gun rights for one year.
The citizen can also request that the hearing be extended for up to 30 days.
In the event a flagged citizen refuses to relinquish the weapons, law enforcement officers are mandated to step in and seize them, the Associated Press reported.
Despite Grisham’s call for dissenting law enforcement officers to resign, Sheriff Mace said that he and other like-minded sheriffs will enforce the law at their own discretion.
“We don’t work for the governor. We don’t work for the Legislature,” the sheriff said. “We work for the people that elected us into office.”
On Tuesday, Roosevelt County commissioners deemed their county to be a Second Amendment “sanctuary,” joining at least a dozen other sanctuary counties throughout the state, the Associated Press reported.
New Mexico’s “red flag” law goes into effect on May 20.
Sixteen other states have also enacted similar laws, according to the Associated Press.