A few weeks ago, Otero County joined 29 other counties in declaring itself to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary county.
Otero County and others have made this move to protest legislative actions they feel may infringe on people’s right to bear arms.
Joining the chorus Tuesday evening, the Alamogordo City Commission voted unanimously to declare itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary city at its regular meeting.
“I asked for this item to be placed on the agenda, so we could discuss it, I know it was a little bit rushed but the (2019 New Mexico Legislative) session ends (March 16),” Alamogordo City Commissioner Josh Rardin said. “I felt that it was more important we address this issue or show support for Otero County or whatever the commission feels, prior to the session ending. There’s some bills that aren’t in the best interests of the people of New Mexico.”
The symbolic declaration is a resolution and not a law.
“There’s a little bit of a misconception with what’s going on here,” Alamogordo Mayor Richard Boss said. “Basically, what we’re doing with a resolution is only a symbolic gesture. Our police force is going to have to enforce the laws of the state of New Mexico… Whatever we do tonight, (APD) is going to have to enforce the laws of the state of New Mexico.”
APD Chief Brian Peete agreed with Boss and added that he expects a constitutional challenge to firearm legislation signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Grisham has already signed into law one of several gun control bills introduced this legislative session.
The law is intending to close a loophole for firearms sales in New Mexico by requiring background checks to be conducted on people who want to purchase from vendors online, at gun shows and other venues where sellers may not have a federal license.
Grisham is also expected to sign into law a measure to keep people from possessing a firearm if they are under permanent protective orders for domestic violence.
An additional initiative, still in debate, deals with the paperwork involved when authorities confiscate firearms.
Peete says he does not have the resources — such as personnel or space to store confiscated firearms — to enforce some of these bills and said the bills do not come with a funding mechanism.
“This is going to be a reaction enforcement thing for APD,” Peete said.
Domestic violence bill
The crowd Tuesday was so large, it spilled into the municipal courtroom next to the commission chambers. Most in attendance spoke in favor of the city become a Second Amendment Sanctuary and much of the talk centered on the bill concerning protection from domestic abusers.
Peete said of the 15 domestic violence-related murders in Alamogordo from 2010-2018, 5 involved a firearm.
“We need to remember that the terror of domestic violence is real,” Peete said. “It has affected almost everybody in this room (City Commission Chambers) at some point in time, whether directly or indirectly. We have to seek ways to limit, in my opinion, access to firearms to criminals, those with violent tendencies and those with significant mind-altering mental illnesses. But we have to be very responsible, diligent and maintain people’s inalienable rights to the Second Amendment.”
City Commissioner Al Hernandez said he was a victim of domestic violence 35 years ago and the weapon was a vehicle.
“The problem is not the guns. The problem is domestic violence. The problems run far deeper than anything else,”Hernandez said.
Hernandez sees the proposed legislation as “an easy way out.”
“I didn’t get shot, I was run over by a car and my ex-wife is still allowed to drive,” Hernandez said. “I got nothing but a bad back.”
He said his ex-wife remarried a police officer and later served in the Marine Corps.
“It’s not the gun, it’s society,” Hernandez said. “It’s not just with domestic violence, it’s with a lot of other stuff. That’s what we need to work on. Not take away amendment rights. It’s working with each other. Become better people and not just show up when it’s in your backyard.”
Kay Gomolak of local domestic violence organization Center for Protective Environment, or COPE, was the only person to speak against the sanctuary resolution. She supports legislation seeking to limit firearm access to domestic abusers.
“This legislation attempts to address a serious and real threat. Its language is consistent with federal law already in effect,” Gomolak said. “If you pass this resolution, will you not enforce this law? I understand that there are questions about weapons storage for law enforcement and concerns for their safety if they must enforce this law. However, let’s not forget that any action taken would be because there was a very real danger presented to the court and validated through due process by the court. If this situation is dangerous for law enforcement, what do you think it’s like for victims of domestic violence and for their children?”
Gomolak ended by suggesting that Alamogordo become a Domestic Violence Victim Sanctuary city.
Public comment included statements from Republican Congressional candidate Yvette Herrell, Otero County Sheriff David Black, APD Officer Roger Schoolcraft and others.
The sole Democrat on the Board of City Commissioners, Nadia Sikes, had some things to say about the resolution and her stance on the subject.
“I appreciate your opinions. I appreciate your feeling that there’s a sanctity in the Second Amendment that we don’t want to violate. I appreciate that,” Sikes said. “I’m not a gun hater. I just believe that some of this gun violence needs to stop and what we’re doing is grasping at straws trying to pass legislation that could potentially help a little bit. But obviously it’s not something that we here in Otero County really want to consider at this time. So, know that I support the commission. I support wherever we go with this.”
When the time came for the final vote, the resolution passed unanimously and the crowd gave a standing ovation.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
©2019 the Alamogordo Daily News (Alamogordo, N.M.)
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