ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The sheriff in New Mexico’s most populous county is joining colleagues from more rural areas of the state in pushing back against sweeping gun-control proposals before the Legislature.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said Friday he would support becoming a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.”
As with a sanctuary city or state for immigrants, a 2nd Amendment sanctuary county is a place where local government supports the sheriff in not using resources to enforce laws that infringe on the right to bear arms.
A dozen other counties have already passed such resolutions, including neighboring Sandoval and Valencia counties.
More are planning to take up the issue as the movement against legislation supported by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who took office in January, has expanded beyond New Mexico’s remote pockets to more populated areas.
Whether Bernalillo County joins the growing list will be up to the county commission, but Gonzales said in a statement that he will not support any legislation that would infringe on the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.
“I believe there are enough laws on the books to effectively deal with the unlawful possession and use of firearms by any kind of perpetrator,” he said.
He added that he would support measures that mandate consistent, swift and appropriate penalties for any illegal possession or use of a gun.
Gonzales’ comments come a day after the Sandoval County Commission voted in favor of sanctuary status. Some people at Thursday night’s meeting told commissioners the discussion amounted to political theatre, and that the gun-control bills were meant to protect New Mexicans.
The legislative proposals include a bill that would expand requirements for background checks on private gun sales. Another measure would allow courts to order people deemed threatening to temporarily surrender their guns to law enforcement.
The bills mirror measures that have become laws in other states amid support fueled by tragedies that include the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, in which 14 students and three staff members were killed.
All but a few of New Mexico’s 33 sheriffs have banded together on the issue and say the “sanctuary” resolutions that are being passed should send a strong message to state lawmakers.
“These proposed laws, as currently written, only impact law-abiding citizens and will do nothing to take guns out of the hands of criminals,” Sandoval County Sheriff Jesse James Casaus said in a statement.