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New Mexico expands gun safety efforts

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SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Gun safety advocates in New Mexico say police, prosecutors and even judges are still learning how to exploit a 2020 red flag law that can be used to seize guns. people’s firearms that pose a danger to others or themselves.

Shiela Lewis provides training to police, prosecutors and school administrators on how to ask a judge for a red flag order to temporarily seize firearms for a period of one year that can be extended. She told a panel of state lawmakers on Tuesday that an incomplete understanding of the current law limits its use as a precaution against gun violence.

Only nine petitions have been filed to have the guns removed since New Mexico’s Red Flag law went into effect in May 2020.


“Our (red flag) laws are new, we don’t have interpretations, they’re not comfortable using them,” said Lewis, whose training is underwritten by New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. . “When I’ve spoken to agents, they always have a story to tell me about why they wanted to use it but didn’t think they could use it.”

President Joe Biden signed gun safety legislation in June that helps states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take guns from people deemed dangerous.

State health officials say they may be able to tap into that funding as New Mexico creates a gun violence prevention unit in the Department of Health.

The Department of Health plans to begin applying for grants aimed at preventing gun violence from August.

New Mexico traced 479 gun deaths in 2020 in a state of about 2.1 million people. This puts New Mexico in the top 10 states for gun deaths per capita.

Democratic State Representative Dayan Hochman-Vigil on Tuesday introduced a bill that would establish a permanent office of gun violence prevention in state law. She said the bureau would collect reliable gun violence data that is desperately needed to determine whether state gun laws are working or whether new approaches are needed.

The bill would be considered during the next regular legislative session of the Legislative Assembly in January 2023.

The Democratic-led Legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham passed red flag legislation in response to the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 23 people at a Walmart there. two years in a racially motivated attack.

Some rural sheriffs were openly hostile to the legislation and threatened to avoid its enforcement.