Editorial: DA Torrez's crackdown on guns is very welcome news - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: DA Torrez’s crackdown on guns is very welcome news

Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez isn’t willing to sit on the political and prosecutorial sidelines as the gun debate plays out in Washington, D.C., in the wake of the horrific school shooting in Florida.

Thankfully.

Yes, Torrez wants to see some legislative changes at the state level, and those will take time. But in the meantime he says cracking down on gun violence will be the “top priority” of his office. And when it comes to gun crime in Albuquerque, his office is where the rubber meets the road.

For starters, Torrez says he will seek pretrial detention of anyone charged with a felony while in possession a firearm – meaning that if judges agree, those defendants would not be eligible for release while awaiting trial.

“Armed felons are the very definition of someone who does not belong on the streets of this community,” he said. Amen to that. Stick a gun in a fast food worker’s face during a holdup and you should cool your heels in jail while awaiting trial.

There is now room at the Metropolitan Detention Center, and recent decisions by the state Supreme Court give judges leeway to hold such defendants by allowing them to consider the nature of the crime charged. And let’s face it: monitoring and ankle bracelets are a joke for anyone bent on committing harm.

New Mexico’s Democrat-controlled Legislature passed a law this year increasing the penalty for felon in possession of a firearm from a third-degree felony punishable by 18 months to a third-degree punishable by three years – but it was watered down to apply only if the prior conviction was a capital offense or violent crime.

Legislation that would have bumped the penalty for using a firearm during a crime from one to three years died in committee.

Torrez, starting just his second year in office, also said he is devoting at least three more full-time gun prosecutors to refer any federally eligible case for potential prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. These prosecutors would be cross-trained as assistant U.S. attorneys and be able to prosecute cases in federal court as well as state court. That would include crimes such as felon in possession of a firearm, which state law has treated as a slap on the wrist compared with tough sentences in federal court. In fact, like firearm enhancement during a felony, it is a charge that historically was often bargained away.

Torrez also is calling on state legislators to pass laws supporting mandatory background checks before purchasing a gun, mandatory surrender of firearms of anyone convicted of domestic violence and a “red-flag” law that would allow family members or intimate partners to seek a civil court order removing guns from people the court deems to be dangerous. He also wants tougher penalties for people who make threats against schools. And we’ve had a rash of threats here, not to mention the arrests of three juveniles at Albuquerque High School last week after APS police found a handgun and a rifle in a car.

Torrez, a Democrat, is a gun owner who has a concealed carry permit. And the Second Amendment isn’t going away any time soon – no matter how much some people wish it would.

But even ardent supporters of the Second Amendment should be able to agree with Torrez when he says, “One of the things I think everyone needs to finally come to terms with is that there are people in society, either by virtue of prior criminal acts or mental instability, that should just not possess a firearm.”

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Home » Opinion » Editorials » Editorial: DA Torrez’s crackdown on guns is very welcome news

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Editorial: How useful is the Arnold tool?
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: New Mexicans ... From the Editorial Board: New Mexicans still waiting for fair and uniform pretrial release determination system.
2
Editorial: More NM districts should follow APS, set student ...
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: It's essential ... From the Editorial Board: It's essential for goals to last longer than board members or an administrator's tenure.
3
Editorial: Gun laws should enhance safety, target criminal acts
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Lawmakers should ... From the Editorial Board: Lawmakers should focus gun legislation on sensible steps that can make a difference without feeding the notion that the government ...
4
Editorial: ABQ needs to clean up its paths and ...
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Downtown, where ... From the Editorial Board: Downtown, where the city has invested money trying to make the area a liveable, attractive center of the city, the ...
5
Editorial: Better habits can help prevent traffic deaths
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: While not ... From the Editorial Board: While not every crash is survivable, deadly accidents could be reduced by simple steps.
6
Editorial: AFR-APS teamwork could rescue NM workforce
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: So here's ... From the Editorial Board: So here's to monitoring the AFR-APS ambassador program, and scaling it up to other careers and other districts — for ...
7
Editorial: The keys to unlocking NM's economic potential
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Increased capital, ... From the Editorial Board: Increased capital, business-friendly environment, ready workforce can build the framework to a brighter economic future.
8
Editorial: Better safety needed to keep NM among best ...
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: More concrete ... From the Editorial Board: More concrete gun safety measures are needed to ensure New Mexico remains among the best places to work as a ...
9
Editorial: New speaker’s actions, words don’t quite jibe
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Given Patricia ... From the Editorial Board: Given Patricia Lundstrom's dismissal from the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, will Speaker Javier Martínez's leadership really mean moderate Ds, ...