SANTA FE – Rio Arriba County, one of New Mexico’s most Democratic counties by voter registration, on Tuesday joined a fast-spreading movement and declared itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”
All three members of county commission — Danny J. Garcia, James J Martinez and Leo V. Jamarillo — voted for the declaration, said Rio Arriba Sheriff James Lujan, who bought the measure before the commission.
Tuesday night, the Española City Council, in Rio Arriba County, also approved its own Second Amendment sanctuary measure, according to a tweet by the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association.
At least 18 other counties have passed similar measures, which are being promoted by local sheriffs in response to a package of gun safety measures under consideration at the Legislature. Rio Arriba County is largely rural like other counties on the “sanctuary” list, but stands out because of its strong blue tint politically — 75 percent of Rio Arriba registered voters are Democrats.
The Rio Arriba resolution says the commission affirms its support for “decisions by our sheriff to not enforce any unconstitutional firearms law against any citizen” and that no county resources should be used to enforce any law “that unconstitutionally infringes on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
One bill Democratic lawmakers have been pushing at the Roundhouse would expand requirements for background checks to almost any gun sale in New Mexico. Its sponsors include veteran Rio Arriba state Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española.
Sheriff Lujan emphasized that the sanctuary county resolution is not an attack “on any senator or any House representatives at all — it’s us standing up for the Second Amendment.”
Another bill before the Legislature would prohibit an individual convicted of battery on a household member – among other crimes – from having a firearm and says that persons subject to restraining orders in domestic violence cases can be required to give up firearms to law enforcement.
Last year, Lujan temporarily was under an emergency restraining order after he allegedly threatened his wife at a Wal-Mart store, according to a report in the Rio Grande Sun newspaper. His wife later recanted the accusations. Lujan acknowledged that the episode influenced his position on the legislation about taking guns from people facing restraining orders, at least on the issue of due process.
“We can’t go and violate somebody’s due process and automatically think that they’re guilty because somebody’s making an accusation,” the sheriff said. “I was totally cleared on that. There’s a prime example of how due process can be violated.”