Sat. Mar 28th, 2020

Red-flag gun bill revised and moves to senate floor

SANTA FE (AP) – A red-flag gun bill in New Mexico has been revised to allow only law enforcement officials and not family members to petition for guns to be denied temporarily to people who pose an apparent danger to themselves or others.

According to the Associated Press, Bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces on Wednesday introduced extensive changes in response to concerns raised about due process rights for gun owners and worries that law enforcement officials might be thrust unnecessarily into danger.

Under the rewritten bill, law enforcement officers could petition a state district court to order the temporary surrender of firearms in response to a sworn affidavit that a gun-holder poses an imminent danger.

Law enforcement officers who decline red-flag requests must report their decision and can be held liable for not enforcing the law, under the revised proposal.

A Senate panel on judicial affairs endorsed the bill on a 6-5 vote, with unified Republican opposition and an additional no vote from Democratic Sen. Richard Martinez, who represents a largely rural district in northern New Mexico.

The bill now moves to the Senate floor.

The red-flag law has encountered vocal opposition from dozens of rural sheriffs. Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton, a liaison to the state sheriffs association, said fundamental concerns remain.

“Many of the New Mexico sheriffs are still going to be concerned that there is a gun confiscation before a hearing,” Hamilton said.

The revised red-flag bill requires a finding of probable cause for a court to issue a temporary firearm protection order. The court then has 10 days to hold a hearing on a possible 1-year suspension of gun-possession rights.

Ignoring an order to surrender a firearm would be a misdemeanor offense.