By Jon Dougherty
The vast majority of county sheriffs in New Mexico are pushing back against new gun control legislation they say is pointless and will only impact law-abiding citizens in the state.
“You’re just taking guns out of law-abiding citizen’s hands,” said Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton, according to CBS 7. “This is not going to affect the criminals out there. They’re going to be able to get guns and they do not follow the law.”
Helton is just one of dozens of sheriffs who signed onto a statement by the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association that takes aim at four gun-related bills, calling them ineffective.
The station reported:
House bill 83 would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from people considered an imminent threat while people subject to a protective order would be prohibited from buying guns under house bill 87.
House Bill 130 aims [to penalize] gun owners who don’t store guns safely around children and Senate Bill 8 looks to require background checks for private firearm sales.
Although many sheriffs oppose these bills New Mexico state representative Joy Garratt [a Democrat] said legislation like her House Bill 83 could have prevented massacres like the Parkland, Florida shooting last year.
“Had this bill been there they would have been able to remove his weapons temporarily while he got the mental health and law enforcement investigation that should have been done,” Garratt said.
Critics dispute her conclusions.
In fact, they say, there were plenty of opportunities using existing laws to have perhaps stopped onetime student at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School and alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz. Several reports following the shootings noted that school officials, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, and even the FBI all missed or ignored numerous warning signs that would have led to authorities ensuring that Cruz did not have easy access to guns.
For example, Cruz not only passed background checks to buy his guns legally (including the AR-15 he allegedly used to commit the murders), but he also passed mental health checks although he was clearly troubled.
As for Helton, the issue in his state with the slate of new gun control laws is about the Second Amendment.
“I’m proud to say I’m a constitutional sheriff and I’m just not going to enforce an unconstitutional law,” Helton said. “My oath prevents me from doing that.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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