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Estancia Mayor Nathan Dial says he intends to reword a controversial new town rule requiring people to be “legally armed” to attend Town Council meetings.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico sent a letter to Dial and the town’s board of trustees saying that if the town did not rescind the rule by Tuesday of this week, it would initiate a lawsuit for “constitutional and statutory violations and seek an order enjoining the town from enforcing the rule,” scheduled to go into effect next Tuesday.
But Maria Martinez Sanchez, deputy legal director for ACLU New Mexico, said the organization is holding off for now.
“We received a letter from Mayor Dial,” Martinez Sanchez said. “There is a lot of stuff in it that has no bearing on the issue, but the promising part of the letter is that he is acknowledging that the rule is vague.”
She said that litigation is still possible but that the ACLU is waiting to see if Estancia withdraws the rule or rewords it so that people understand they do not have to carry a gun to attend meetings.
Dial said he is going to review the rule’s wording.
“Hopefully, within the next 48 hours I’ll have some new verbiage,” Dial told the Journal on Wednesday. “I’ll call (the ACLU) and go over it with them.”
The rule says, “In order to attend an Estancia Town Council meeting, one must be legally Armed.
By entering this meeting, you acknowledge that you are prepared to defend yourself and beliefs with what you believe is necessary to do so. (This definition is at the discretion of the Executive Branch.) Any and all Religious, Medical or Ethical exceptions will be honored without question.”
The mayor has said the Estancia rule is in reaction to a state ban on taking deadly weapons into the state Capitol. He said Estancia’s rule is meant to ensure that people know they have the right to bear arms at the town’s public meetings, if they so choose.
Dial has said, too, that “legally armed” could mean being armed with thought and knowledge and that no one will be barred from meetings because they are not carrying a gun.