A nonprofit that pushes for gun control laws nationwide said Monday that emails obtained through public records requests show a group of New Mexico sheriffs received extensive help from the National Rifle Association in their stance against state gun-control legislation.
Brady, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, included excerpts from the emails in a report, saying NRA representatives penned op-ed drafts for the sheriffs, spoke at New Mexico Sheriffs Association meetings, and used the group to advance its agenda of blocking gun-control legislation. Brady requested the emails under the state records act after more than two dozen sheriffs declared — with their county commissions’ backing — that they will not enforce gun-control laws approved by the Legislature this year.
The laws taking effect in July will require mandatory background checks on nearly all firearms sales in the state and prohibit firearms-possession for people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence. The rural sheriffs’ strongest push back came when they presented resolutions to their county commissions saying they would not be required to enforce the new laws.
“We live in a society based on the rule of law,” Miranda Viscoli, the co-president of the group New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. “If the people with guns — our sheriffs — believe they can pick and choose the laws they intend to acknowledge and enforce, we no longer live in the democracy we cherish so dearly.”
The NRA said in response to the Brady report that the steps it took to coordinate with sheriffs in protesting gun control measures were no different than those other groups take in lobbying efforts. Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for NRA, called the report a distraction from the support gun-control advocates received from out-of-state groups.
“No matter where you’re at on this, both sides have their helpers,” Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace added.
Mace, who is the president of the New Mexico Sheriffs Association, said a lobbyist for the NRA had helped his association with talking points for legislative testimony. He disputed assertions that the NRA assisted him with drafting “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions that the vast majority of sheriffs in the state took their county commissioners in protest of the gun legislation that New Mexico’s governor has described as life-saving measures.
In total, the protesting counties are home to roughly half of the state’s population.
Several sheriffs in Nevada and Colorado also have support in their counties for resolutions similar to those presented in New Mexico counties. Brady also filed public records requests for sheriffs in Nevada.