NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s red flag law lets law enforcement take guns away from people deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. In the three years since it has been law a majority of the counties haven’t even tried to use it.
Now the attorney general’s office is hoping to get more law enforcement to use the tool. “There are people who have access to weapons who are also dangerous who are mentally unstable,” said New Mexico Attorney General, Raúl Torrez.
The attorney general’s office is providing free training to departments and organizations on how to enforce the red flag law. They have said they will go to the offices or departments as well as provide online training for those who would like.
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The AG knows not everyone in law enforcement will take advantage of this new tactic. “It’s a way for us to use existing law and hopefully improve existing law to make everyone safer and to improve the public’s safety and reduce gun violence in those communities we obviously can’t make people engage in it but we are certainly making the resources available to them if they would like to learn more” said Torrez.
The law was introduced and passed by the legislature in 2020. Sheriffs around the state vowed not to enforce it. Since May 2020, there have only been 55 petitions by law enforcement to use the red flag law. 20 out of the 33 counties in the state have never filed for an extreme risk protection order.
Bernalillo County has filed for the most of 27 with 22 of them being this year. “What we want it to be not a concern for everybody to be on the same page. I think we can’t be so selfish for any political reasons or any party aligned. Again, are we saving a life and utilizing a tool that is important to make sure that a mass shooting or that another domestic violent homicide is prevented? That’s what’s more important to me. Personally, I hope the other sheriffs would understand,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff John Allen.
The AG’s Office has sent out letters this week to every county about the free training. They already have had 10 offices sign up. The AG also plans to ask the legislature to change the red flag law to protect the person who is asking for someone’s guns to be taken away. The AG also wants to make sure a law enforcement officer can petition to take a person’s guns away. Right now state law does not allow it.