New Mexico this week became the 18th state to enact a red flag law.
Also known as extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), red flag laws allow law enforcement to confiscate firearms from an individual accused of being a threat to himself or others.
New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham praised the passage of Senate Bill 5 in a press release.
Today I signed into law an important measure enhancing public safety & reducing the risk of mass gun violence, creating extreme-risk protection orders & empowering law enforcement to temporarily disarm individuals who present a clear danger to themselves or others.#NMgov #SB5 pic.twitter.com/rUYES5GDUA— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) February 25, 2020
“New Mexico has balanced individual rights and public safety in a responsible way that will reduce our unacceptable suicide rate and other forms of gun violence,” Grisham said.
“The Legislature had the strength to pass this measure because we all recognize: Enough is enough. And we have the power to change the dynamic of gun violence in our communities. 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,” she continued.
An earlier version of the bill would have allowed anyone to petition for an ERPO. But during negotiations lawmakers decided to limit that power to police.
After guns are seized from the accused, a hearing must be held within 10 days to determine whether the ERPO should be extended for a year. It’s not clear what type of mental health treatment, if any, is offered to the individual. Or whether other deadly implements are also taken in the initial raid: kitchen knives, baseball bats, automobiles, etc. After all, a crazed man in a rental truck can be as deadly as a crazed man with a gun.
In other words, the focus is on simply confiscating firearms — not on addressing the true source of the potential danger, the individual.
The New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association voiced its displeasure with the new law. Arguing in a public letter last week that confiscation before due process raises constitutional concerns.
“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,” wrote Tony Mace, the chairman of the association. “‘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.”
While signing the legislation Tuesday, Gov. Grisham was very candid to sheriffs who are contemplating not enforcing ERPOs, including Sheriff Mace.
“They cannot not enforce,” she said. “And if they really intend to do that, they should resign as a law enforcement officer and leader in that community.”
Sheriff Mace told local media that the association has retained an attorney and is going to pursue the matter further via legal channels.