Protection of women, children is essential

March 3, 2019

In a shocking display of moral turpitude, the corporate gun lobby has teamed up with sheriffs across the state of New Mexico to protect guns over women and children.

The state Legislature has been advancing bills that would remove guns from domestic violence offenders under a judge’s protective orders — a judge who will have determined those domestic violence offenders to be dangerous to their families. To stop that from happening, sheriffs and the National Rifle Association have rallied their forces to pass resolutions county by county declaring that they will refuse to enforce such protection laws.

Quite literally, our sheriffs, who have sworn an oath to protect the people in their communities as well as to uphold and enforce the laws, have instead decided to protect guns over New Mexico’s women and children.

So, when our state witnesses the next tragic event like the November 2018 shooting near Gallup — in which a boyfriend killed three people, himself and critically wounded the mother with her son watching — we will be able to add the inevitable lawsuit against law officials for not enforcing a law to the parade of injustices we are visiting upon the least among us.

And it is worth contemplating what it means when the people we have entrusted with guns to protect us decide that possession of those guns are more important than protecting us. We live in a society based on the rule of law. If the people with the guns 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.

There is a reason New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence and the state Legislature are addressing the role that guns play in domestic violence in New Mexico. One out of every three children in New Mexico will be present during a domestic violence incident. I personally know a young mother who has been forced to move seven times because her ex-husband threatened to shoot her and her children. He is now under a protective order, but she has no idea if he still has his guns. Calls to federal agents and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have not been returned.

The problem is that today in New Mexico, judges and local law enforcement officers cannot remove guns from domestic violence offenders under protective orders because only federal agents and ATF officers have the authority to do so. That is what House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 328 seek to address.

If you live in a so-called “Second Amendment sanctuary” county and happen to see your local sheriff around town, let him know that you encourage him to do his job and protect the children in your community from becoming another sad New Mexican statistic. Tell your sheriff to stop furthering the agenda of the corporate gun lobby whose sole reason for existence is to sell more guns into your community.

Miranda Viscoli is co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.