Kudos to our Democratic governor and New Mexico Legislature for their action to prevent suicides and domestic violence through the passage of the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Act or “red flag” law. Meanwhile, most of New Mexico’s sheriffs—including Sandoval County’s Jesse James Casaus—have opposed this life saving-measure and stated they may not enforce it. Indeed, last February, Sheriff Casaus supported our county commission’s vote to become a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
In opposing the red flag law, Casaus and the other sheriffs claim they are protecting gun owners’ due process rights. They also assert they are preventing “weaponization” of the measure by persons seeking to retaliate against a gun owner because of a divorce proceeding or other dispute. These assertions lack merit. The extreme risk legislation requires a decision by a judge and high standards of evidence before removing a gun owner’s weapon.
Over the past 18 years, firearm death rates in New Mexico have been consistently higher than U.S. rates. Firearms are the leading cause of violent death in New Mexico, accounting for over half of deaths by suicide and homicide in 2017. Evidence shows that for every 10-20 risk warrants issued in states with red flag laws, one life was saved.
Rather than protecting us from injury and loss of life from real weapons, the sheriffs’ fixation is weaponizing the Second Amendment to keep guns in the hands of individuals who pose an immediate danger of causing personal injury to themselves or others.
New Mexico’s extreme risk act was amended to address law enforcement’s concerns. We urge Sheriff Casaus to put the safety of Sandoval County’s residents ahead of Second Amendment slogans.