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Will New Mexico Be Next "Red-Flag" State?

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A majority of Americans support laws that allow family members or police to request temporary removal of guns from a person deemed at risk to themselves or others, according to a 2019 APM Research Lab/Guns & America/Call To Mind survey. (LoveableNinja/Pixabay)
A majority of Americans support laws that allow family members or police to request temporary removal of guns from a person deemed at risk to themselves or others, according to a 2019 APM Research Lab/Guns & America/Call To Mind survey. (LoveableNinja/Pixabay)
February 7, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. - A "red flag" gun bill is headed to the New Mexico Senate floor for debate - but not without a major revision from the original legislation.

The "Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act" would allow courts to temporarily remove guns when someone is considered a danger to themselves or others.

Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, says red-flag laws are not about permanently taking firearms away from legitimate owners. Instead, she says, they focus on gun owners who are exhibiting risky behaviors.

"These policies allow people to temporarily separate someone from their firearms, and when that crisis passes or when the allotted time has passed, those individuals can get their firearms back," says Crifasi.

The bill was revised this week by co-sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, to allow only law enforcement officers - not household or family members - to petition the court for an extreme risk order.

Last week, hundreds of Second Amendment advocates protested the bill outside the New Mexico State Capitol.

A 2019 survey shows strong majorities of Americans from across the political spectrum support extreme-risk protection order laws, with more women in favor than men.

Crifasi says data from Connecticut, which has had such a law since 1999, shows it has been used to remove firearms in a variety of situations - including violent threats against wives, girlfriends and children.

"Disarming potentially violent individuals who have been committing domestic violence through this extreme-risk protection order mechanism can provide an additional layer of protection," says Crifasi.

Lawmakers in the New Mexico House approved a red-flag law last year, but it stalled in the Senate. Since then, Democrats have gained control of both chambers and the governor's office, with Michelle Lujan Grisham a strong supporter of extreme-risk firearm protection orders.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM