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Two years ago, thousands of protesters gathered in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and other cities across New Mexico to demand change after the Parkland massacre.
“I want to see Congress passing more gun laws,” a 16-year-old high school student told the Albuquerque Journal.
This year, the protesters showing up in Santa Fe are fewer in number and have one major difference: they’re carrying guns.
The calls this year are against government overreach on their right to bear arms, part of the so-called “Second Amendment sanctuary movement” that’s spreading lies and endangering public safety in states across the country.
These gun-toting protesters are attempting to drown out the voices of thousands of New Mexicans who marched for change two years ago, who voted gun-safety champion Michelle Lujan Grisham into office, and who support common-sense gun laws. They failed.
For a long time, enacting stronger gun laws was an afterthought. Lawmakers in states like New Mexico failed to take action. Now that’s changing. Since the Parkland massacre, a sea change has rippled out across the country, with 137 gun safety bills signed into law in 32 states.
Look at this state capitol. Lujan Grisham vowed to take action on gun safety if elected as governor – and she’s kept her promise. In 2019, New Mexico boosted its grade from an F to a C on Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard by passing a package of bills to strengthen background checks and disarm domestic abusers, much-needed progress for a state with a gun-death rate higher than the national average.
This year, legislators across the state are taking the next step in the fight to save lives: passing an extreme risk protection order law. New Mexico will become the 18th state to enact such a law, which enables a court to temporarily remove firearm access from people who threaten violence against themselves or others. It should be noted that both Republican and Democratic governors have signed them into law.
Popular with the vast majority of Americans, extreme risk laws have been used to safely and effectively disarm individuals who have threatened mass shootings, firearm suicide and domestic violence. Earlier this month, Giffords published a report that looked at usage of extreme risk protection orders in Broward County, Florida, home of the deadly Parkland massacre. The data showed that time after time, law enforcement relied on this useful tool in moments of crisis – while ensuring robust due process protections through the court system.
The “Second Amendment sanctuary” movement has arisen largely in response to the rising popularity of extreme risk laws, most of which were enacted after Parkland. Some Americans have taken to the streets in armed protest; some sheriffs have claimed these laws violate constitutional freedoms and have refused to enforce them.
But these sheriffs who are attempting to overrule the courts are not only wrong, they’re also endangering the lives of the people they’ve sworn to protect. Extreme risk laws have been shown to reduce suicides in states like Connecticut and Indiana.
The particularly tragic irony of New Mexico is that many of the counties quickest to declare themselves gun sanctuaries suffer from suicide rates higher than the state average.
Gov. Lujan Grisham, Reps. Daymon Ely and Joy Garratt, both D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, are not letting an armed and vocal minority stop them. They are listening to their constituents and acting with courage. New Mexicans will be safer because these elected officials care more about the people they represent than special interests like the gun lobby.
Progress is happening in New Mexico. Gun rights activists might try to use their guns to silence and intimidate us, but we won’t let them have the last word.
Giffords is the gun safety group started by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in a 2011 assassination attempt.