On June 15, a man was shot in Old Town over the “La Jornada” (The Journey) sculpture in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The shooting occurred during a protest for the removal of the figures of Juan de Onate de Salazar in the sculpture. There were 5 to 6 heavily armed New Mexico Civil Guard members, some dressed in military camouflage, present trying to “protect” the sculpture. It was reported that the shooting occurred when at least 3 of the protesters attacked a person who was walking away from them, he was struck in the head with a skateboard and the person attacked drew a gun, shot numerous times, with one shot hitting one of the protesters. The shot protester was rushed to the hospital and is listed in critical but stable condition. The shooting and violence resulted in the City taking the single figure of Onate in the sculpture down.
On June 16, the Albuquerque Police Department released a photo of the 13 guns and 34 magazines taken from militia members at the protest in front of the Albuquerque Museum Monday. In the APD photo there are 4 semi-automatic rifles. A controversy is now brewing over the handling of the protest by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). Albuquerque is damn lucky that it did not have a mass shooting given the emotional tensions that erupted and the ensuing shooting.
THE WEAPON OF CHOICE
Since 1995, the United States has had 95 mass shootings, including seven of the 11 deadliest. There is no doubt we have a deadly mass shooting epidemic on our hands.
The mass shooting with guns in the last 10 years include: Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn (21 children and 6 adult staff members killed) and the largest mass shooting in this country’s history that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded and the Parkland/Stoneridge High School shooting that resulted in 17 children’s deaths, El Paso,Texas, 23 dead and 23 injured.
“The deadliest mass shootings in recent history have had one thing in common: the perpetrator used an assault rifle. These weapons possess an incredible amount of killing power, and amplify the destructive will of the person who carries out an attack. Nine people died and 27 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in an attack that lasted 32 seconds. The killer used an AR-15 style assault rifle.Since 1999, there have been 115 mass shootings (defined below) in which 941 people were killed and 1,431 were injured. Of those 115 attacks, 32 — just over a quarter — involved semi-automatic rifles. But those attacks accounted for 40% of all deaths and 69% of all injuries. Since 2017, 12 of the 31 mass shootings involved assault rifles — which caused 39% of the deaths and 92% of the injuries. That includes the Las Vegas massacre — which alone accounts for almost 40% of all mass shooting injuries since 1999. The perpetrator of that shooting used over 20 assault rifles during that attack.”
After so many mass killings, it is difficult to refute that something needs to be done about semi-automatic and automatic guns such as the AR-15 which are the type used in all the mass shootings. These are also the weapons of choice that are carried by the citizen militias.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Frankly, with so many guns seized by APD after the June 15 protest, its remarkable that the City did not have a mass shooting. The 13 guns, including 4 rifles, and 34 magazines seized is an enormous amount of firepower that no doubt could have resulted in mass injuries and killings.
People showing up to peaceful protests bearing long rifles or any other kind of firearm under the guise of protecting the general public, or for that matter themselves, and businesses from violence, vandalism and looting need to be called what they are: vigilantes. They are trying to take the law into their own hands and holding themselves out as law abiding citizens when they are not and likely having evil intent. They are “on the hunt” to be able to use their weaponry when they attend protests.
Citizen Militia’s need to be condemned in no uncertain terms. It needs to be made clear they have absolutely no business showing up armed to the hilt with assault weapons and wearing military fatigues to peaceful protests. Such conduct only intimidates and antagonizes people which is the real intent of such militias.
No doubt self-appointed “citizen militias” and their supporters will argue they have second amendment rights to bear arms. The argument is nothing but a rue and a convenient excuse to start trouble.
Second Amendment advocates represented by citizen militias always ignore and seem to want to usurp people’s First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, which many would say are rights far more important than their right to bear arms.
After so many mass shootings and the proliferation of citizen militias, New Mexico and the country are long overdue for responsible and reasonable gun control legislation.
In New Mexico, our legislature should consider:
1. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.
2. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.
3. Requiring in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.
4. Enact a gun violence restraining order and extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.
5. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person, including dating partners, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
6. Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.
On a federal level, congress needs to consider:
1. Implementation of background checks on the sale of all guns.
2. Close the “Charleston loophole” or “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns if three business days pass without FBI clearance.
3. Call for the update and enhancement of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NCIS).
4. Institute mandatory extended waiting periods for all gun purchases.
5. Implement mandatory handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration requirements.
6. Ban “bump-fire stocks” as was used in the Las Vegas mass shooting and other dangerous accessories.
7. Ban future manufacture and sale of all assault weapons and regulate existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and initiate a federal gun buyback program.
8. Impose limits on high capacity magazines.
9. Prohibit firearm sale or transfer to and receipt or possession by an individual who has: (1) been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor hate crime, or (2) received from any court an enhanced hate crime misdemeanor sentence.
10. Institute mandatory child access prevention safe storage requirements and prohibit the sales of handguns with “hair triggers”.
11. Provide more resources and treatment for people with mental illness.
12. Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers.
13. Implement micro stamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun.
14. Produce ‘x-mart guns’ with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.
15. Limit gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases.
16. Prohibit open carry of firearms.
17. Digitize Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire (ATF) gun records.
18. Require licensing for ammunition dealer.
Until something is done with the enactment of reasonable gun control legislation and the citizen militias that are nothing more than vigilantes on the hunt, the State and Country can expect more violence and more killings given our toxic political climate during an election year.