SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Senate passed the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection bill by two votes with some Democrats crossing party lines. It came after a tense afternoon of debate. This bill would allow law enforcement officials to petition the courts to temporarily take away someone’s guns if they are a threat to themselves or to the public.
“In too many of these mass killings and in suicides, we have noticed and we have acknowledged too many times of these individuals telling friends, schoolmates, principals, family members, of their intentions to do harm to others and yet despite that knowledge, too often times nothing is done,” said Sen. Joseph Cervantes.
Lots of changes have happened to this bill since it was first introduced. Instead of allowing anyone, including friends and family to petition the court, only law enforcement officials can do that. Backers of this say this could prevent school shootings, suicides and mass murders.
In a new addition to the bill, Sen. Cervantes raised the state’s tort claims, which are the maximum amount the state could pay someone if their property or themselves are injured by public employees, like law enforcement. In the bill, it would’ve raised the payout cap from &750-thousand to $2 million dollars. Sen. Cervantes said he added it because he’s worried law enforcement officials won’t enforce this if it becomes law.
“Too often times our efforts on this bill are challenged by certain segments of the law enforcement community who say they will not comply with the law,” said Sen. Cervantes. “When we have law enforcement say they will not comply with the law, there has to be a consequence. In Colorado where sheriffs have indicated they will not follow the law they recall efforts in other ways. Rather than having sheriff recall elections in our state, we took a more prudent approach was to look at the liability that exists in our books and make sure the liability reflected the potential for harm.”
However, that section was more of a statement and it was quickly taken out. The tort claim liability went back to the original $750-thousand dollar cap.
Opponents say New Mexico doesn’t need this law because there’s already a state mental evaluation law that could get people immediate help if they threatened to harm themselves or others.
“We’re not taking care of the behavioral health issues we need to in New Mexico. We’re not educated, it came up in a hearing that people who lost loved ones didn’t know didn’t have this law and that tore my heart. Someone could’ve survived if family members knew we had this law already in the books,” said Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque.
This bill is backed by Governor Lujan Grisham.
Several Democrats did vote against it Friday afternoon. The Red Flag Bill is now heading to the House where the Democrats have the majority.