New Mexico AG Hosts Law EnforcementSummit, Leaving Governor Sidelined

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When New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued her unconstitutional order suspending the right to carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, the state’s attorney general was quick to distance himself from her actions. Raul Torrez not only declined to enforce her order, he refused to defend it in court as well.

On Tuesday, Torrez took another step to separate himself from Grisham’s unilateral decision to declare a fundamental right null and void. The AG hosted a “law enforcement summit” featuring police chiefs and sheriffs from across the state to “discuss solutions to gun violence.” Not only was the governor apparently not invited, but Torrez thew a bit of shade her way in his comments to the press.

“Gun violence is a serious problem and it requires a serious, thoughtful approach grounded in the real world experience of law enforcement professionals,” said AG Torrez. “For far too long police and prosecutors have been bystanders to the legislative and policy-making process in Santa Fe. That’s why we organized this summit and created an opportunity for those closest to the problem to offer some practical advice for how we can work together to make our communities safer.”

A “serious, thoughtful approach”… unlike the wildly inappropriate and downright delusional plan by Grisham to ban bearing arms in self-defense. It sounds like gun control wasn’t a primary topic of conversation among those in attendance, who instead focused on the flaws in the state’s criminal justice system.

During the summit, law enforcement leaders and prosecutors discussed their personal experiences relating to gun violence and their opinions on solutions that would make communities throughout New Mexico safer, including tools and legislation to hold violent, repeat offenders accountable, resources to recruit and train more law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and laws that target and deter individuals that possess firearms in the commission of a crime.

Honestly, I don’t see much that raises red flags there, though those “laws that target and deter individuals that possess firearms in the commission of a crime” could easily end up ensnaring lawful gun owners depending on what specific policies we’re talking about. Clearly, though, the emphasis was on violent offenders, not the lawful gun owners targeted by Grisham in her public health order.

One of those in attendance was Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, who also refused to enforce Grisham’s order in his jurisdiction. Allen says he’s “pissed off” about the current state of the court system, which is putting convicted criminals back onto the street while they await sentencing. One individual was recently arrested while wearing an ankle monitor after being accused of shooting at the sheriff’s brother in a road rage assault.

On September 7, Sheriff Allen’s brother was picking up his son from football practice, driving on I-25, when another driver was driving erratically and shot at them three times as they were turning on Alameda.

Turns out, that driver, identified by police as 25-year-old Salvador Garcia, was arrested last September for shooting at his girlfriend’s mother’s house.

The State had filed for pre-trial detention in February, but Judge Joseph Montano denied it and Garcia was let out on a GPS monitor.

Garcia pled guilty in March, but as of September 7, when the road rage shooting happened, he still had not been sentenced. He remained out on that monitor until deputies arrested him Friday.

“All of that GPS monitor tells me is when he commits another crime where he did it up. It’s it, there’s nothing special about it. It just tells us where they’re going to be when they commit their next crime, and it just verifies what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to keep reoffending.”

Allen is rightfully pissed, and every New Mexico resident should be just as furious at a system that allows those convicted of violent offenses to remain free as a bird for months on end while they await their sentence.

Oddly, though, I haven’t heard a single word from the governor about the failures of the criminal justice system and how that impacts violent crime in Albuquerque or Bernalillo County. Instead, she’s doubled down on her theory that preventing concealed carry holders from bearing arms to defend themselves and their families is the only real way to improve public safety. Shortly after a federal judge granted a restraining order against her original carry ban, Grisham revised her mandate to suspend the right to carry only in parks and playgrounds. As Zac Fort of the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association told Bearing Arms earlier this week, those locations are still covered under the TRO that’s in place, so even the governor’s revised order isn’t being enforced at the moment.

Given Torrez’s political leanings, I’m sure that he and I have plenty of disagreements when it comes to gun ownership and the right to keep and bear arms, but convening law enforcement to talk about fighting crime by going after the violent perpetrators is smart from both a political and policy perspective. That’s where the focus should be, and the vast majority of New Mexico residents appear to agree that going after lawful gun owners, as the governor continues to do, is an awful (and unconstitutional) way to improve public safety.

 

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