Cibola County, New Mexico Sheriff Tony Mace says he and other sheriffs from around the state are meeting with attorneys this week as they get ready to file suit over the state’s new red flag law, signed last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
During the signing ceremony, Grisham said that sheriffs who weren’t prepared to enforce the new law should resign, but Sheriff Mace and other sheriffs are taking the matter to court instead. Mace tells me that the sheriffs will be holding meetings with several different attorneys over the next few weeks to discuss litigation strategies before filing suit to block the law from taking effect.
Mace believes the new law infringes on the rights of residents in New Mexico, and not just their right to keep and bear arms. He says the law establishes a bizarre “civil search warrant” process that violates the Fourth Amendment, and the seizure of firearms of those who’ve not been accused of a crime, much less convicted of one, is also a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s taking clause. Bearing Arms
In addition to the constitutional issues at stake, there’s also the pragmatic argument against red flag laws. As Sheriff Mace points out, when someone has been deemed by a court (in a one-sided hearing) to be a danger to themselves or others, the law gives the individual in question 48 hours to turn over their guns. Seems kind of odd to give a dangerous person two entire days to do dangerous things, does it not? And of course, once the firearms are seized, the dangerous person is left to their own devices. Their knives aren’t confiscated. Neither are their car keys. It’s only the guns that are taken away under a red flag law. The dangerous person is left behind, without any mental health treatment at all.
Some sheriffs from mostly rural areas opposed the bill in committee hearings as a violation of constitutional guarantees to due process, free speech and the right to bear arms. Public rallies were held for and against the legislation.
New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association President Tony Mace of Cibola County said the new law goes too far by potentially impounding guns before any crime is committed and that he and other sheriffs will assert their discretion over its enforcement.
“We don’t work for the governor, we don’t work for the Legislature,” he said. “We work for the people that elected us into office.”
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.
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