Resign If You Can’t Enforce NM’s Red Flag Law

On March 13, the Albquerque Jounral Published my guest editorial comment on New Mexico’s newly enacted “Red Flag” law. Following is the column and the link to it:

Resign if you can’t enforce NM’s red flag law
Friday, March 13th, 2020 at 12:05am

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” also known as a “red flag” law. She said that any elected county sheriff who refuses to enforce the law should resign.

They should.

“Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions have been enacted by 27 county commissions to prevent enforcement of gun control laws. The blunt truth is the resolutions exceed county commission authority and are null and void.

Thirty of the state’s elected sheriffs opposed the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act, arguing it violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure and the 14th Amendment depriving “any person of life, liberty and property, without due process of law.” The three amendments are cited by gun fanatics to oppose meaningful gun control. Each separately and together have limitations and exceptions subject to court interpretations.

Virtually every Republican in the House voted against the bill. As Republicans cast their votes, they held up copies of the Constitution. Democrats should have held up copies of death certificates to symbolize suicides and dead victims of domestic gun violence. The New Mexico suicide rate is 21.9 deaths per 100,000 people, which is more than 50% higher than the national average. Ten counties in New Mexico have suicide rates at least twice the national average. Current statistics are one in three N.M. women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade.

The new law allows for court-ordered seizure of guns from individuals deemed an imminent danger to themselves or others. Law enforcement officers, acting on information provided by a relative, school administrator or employer, can exclusively seek a court order prohibiting someone from having firearms. The petition must be based on “probable cause” to believe the individual “poses a significant danger of causing imminent personal injury to self or others.” If granted, a court can order the temporary seizure of firearms for up to 10 days and until a hearing can be held. After a hearing, the order could be extended one year. It’s “due process of law.”

An “extreme risk order” is an extension of the 2019 New Mexico legislative law prohibiting gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act where domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement. Gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes. Seventeen states have adopted “red-flag” laws, with 13 states passing them since the Parkland High School shooting killed 17 people.

Given New Mexico’s high suicide rates, domestic violence killings and the threat of mass shootings, it is shameful elected county sheriffs are more concerned about “Second Amendment rights” believing anyone, including those who pose a harm to themselves and others, should have the right to a firearm of their choosing. Elected sheriffs hide behind the Second, Fourth and 14th amendments so as not to protect or enforce the rights of others who have the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” guaranteed as much under the Constitution as the right to bear arms.
In the violent world of domestic violence, mass shootings, mental illness and suicide, elected sheriffs who oppose meaningful gun-control legislation the red flag law represents are negligent in performing their duties and responsibilities to serve and protect the general public. They choose to promote their own fanatical pro-gun political philosophy and their own personal interpretation of the law and constitutional rights.

County sheriffs who refuses to enforce the new red flag law need to resign immediately and allow county commissions to vet and appoint their replacements. Too many have died in New Mexico from suicides and domestic violence to the point that gun-rights fanaticism placing perceived gun rights over victims’ rights has no place in law enforcement.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.