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Rogue Sheriffs in New Mexico

States like New Mexico are passing important gun reform laws that will make us all safer. But these laws won't work if they aren’t enforced.

Recently, members of the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association (NMSA) publicly declared that they would refuse to enforce common-sense gun violence prevention laws in their state. They’re among a group of local officials in states across the country — including Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — who are trying to deem their cities and towns so-called “Second Amendment sanctuaries” in efforts to thwart recently passed gun safety legislation.

If officers are refusing to enforce the law when it comes to gun safety, the American people deserve to know why.

Brady took legal action to learn just what kind of influence and decision-making was behind these reckless actions. We requested emails from the New Mexico sheriffs under the state’s Inspection of Public Record Act (IPRA), with demands for emailed communications among sheriffs and gun-lobby representatives. A total of 14 New Mexico counties produced 1,615 pages in response to Brady’s requests. Our report summarizes these hundreds of pages of communications.

Our findings confirm that the National Rifle Association (NRA) closely coordinated with and influenced the New Mexico sheriffs’ refusals to enforce gun safety legislation. Our report illustrates how New Mexico’s “rogue sheriffs” made the gun lobby’s priorities their own and put those goals ahead of serving the people of New Mexico. We identified several themes based on coordination between the NRA and New Mexico sheriffs:

  1. THE NRA WAS ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE NMSA’S DECLARATION
    NRA-funded lobbyists were in constant contact with NMSA President Tony Mace leading up to and following the passage of New Mexico laws to expand gun background checks and to expand prohibitory domestic violence crimes in the state. The NRA was also granted time to debrief the sheriffs on “anti-gun bills,” and sheriffs throughout the state were frequently given NRA talking points and information that they then passed off as their own.
  2. A LACK OF RESPECT FOR THE RULE OF LAW
    Beyond the NRA’s direct influence, the NMSA sheriffs showed a clear hostility to various branches of government in New Mexico. Several sheriffs showed contempt towards domestic violence laws, dismissing the links between domestic violence and firearms.
  3. AN ECHO CHAMBER OF CONSPIRACY AND EXTREMISM
    Within the NMSA, a pattern of right-wing conspiracies frequently emerged. Some sheriffs stated that passing gun violence prevention bills would be “selling out the rights of your constituents to a New York Billionaire.” Other emails focused on theories that Democrats and gun violence prevention advocates are “gun-grabbing socialists.”

Further public record requests have been filed in Nevada, and additional efforts are currently under consideration.


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