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City, residents take aim at gun violence

From an administrative action making clear that guns and other weapon are not allowed at community centers to a town hall trying to arrive at strategies to end the scourge, the topic of gun violence was at the forefront in Albuquerque on Saturday.

“It’s common sense that no one should be able to walk into a community center full of kids with a semi-automatic weapon,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “State law prohibits firearms and other deadly weapons from schools, and today we’re making it clear: that law applies to all of our community centers because of our programming for over 200,000 kids per year.”

The Keller administration on Friday signed off on an “Administrative Instruction” in regard to the gun ban at community centers and announced the action at a Saturday “Demand Gun Sense Rally” at North Domingo Baca Park. It also served as a preview to “Project Guardian,” or what the city called “a proactive approach to mass shootings.”

“Each of us has a responsibility to do everything we can to make our kids safer, especially as our nation faces a targeted gun violence epidemic,” Keller said in a news release. “Our public safety agencies are doing proactive work to reduce risk in the community and predict and prevent attacks.”

City leaders plan on unveiling the details of Project Guardian on Monday, but according to preliminary information the strategy will have the Albuquerque Police Department working with other law enforcement agencies and schools to prevent active shooter situations, conduct training and “hardening targets” like places of worship, schools and businesses, using a national database to link ballistics information, and outfitting rescue personnel with bulletproof vests and helmets so they can “get into hot zones quickly.”

Later Saturday, City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson joined with eight state legislators at First United Methodist Church in Downtown to discuss strategies to reduce gun violence with around 100 community members.

The town hall event, which began with elected leaders taking turns speaking about various policy issues related to gun violence and gun control, had residents splitting into groups, some as large as 40 people, to discuss potential solutions with each councilor.

Possible solutions brought up during the group sessions ranged from different gun licensing approaches and domestic violence prevention to increased taxation on ammunition and funneling that money into initiatives to combat gun violence.

During his table session, Councilor Benton detailed one possible solution: the Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO, which would allow judges to temporarily remove guns from a person who is at risk of violence or suicide.

The councilor said the ERPO will be discussed at the Legislature in the spring and Monday the City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to pass a show of support for the measure.

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