‘Measures will confuse honest citizens and confound law enforcement’

The New Mexico Sheriff’s Association recently voted to oppose two firearm-related bills that are being considered in the Roundhouse: Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 50. Proponents of these measures claim that they simply tighten existing regulations in an effort to enhance public safety. But a closer inspection of the legislation reveals expansive restrictions that will limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, drain law enforcement resources, and fail to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

SB 48 and HB 50 would require that all firearms sales and transfers—including those between some family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers and gun club members—be conducted through a federal firearm licensed dealer (FFL). The bills would mandate the two parties jointly appear at the FFL, with the purchaser or transferee filling out government-mandated paperwork, submitting to a background check and paying an undetermined fee. This would be necessary even for temporary exchanges of firearms for perfectly legitimate activities involving people you know well. Both on the initial transfer and when the firearm is returned.

If you allow a friend to borrow your rifle for a hunting trip or to shoot on BLM land and you do not comply with these new regulations, both of you could face up to just under a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine, or both. The same criminal penalties could apply to a boyfriend and his girlfriend if they fail to visit an FFL before he loans her his handgun for protection after there have been a rash of burglaries in her neighborhood.

Ranch employees and their employers could each be committing illegal acts under these bills if ranch-owned firearms are carried and used on the property by workers without approval from the federal government.

These proposed measures will confuse honest citizens and confound law enforcement, potentially draining local resources when manpower challenges and existing caseloads are a concern for both rural and urban police departmens in New Mexico. This would be an unfunded state mandate on us to enforce a law that is truly unenforceable without some sort of additional unpopular, intrusive and possibly unconstitutional regulatory scheme. In fact, a 2013 U.S. Department of Justice internal memo on gun violence prevention strategies stated that the success of expanded background check laws depended, ultimately, on requiring firearm registration.

In addition to the burdens they would place on law-abiding citizens and law enforcement, SB 48 and HB 50 will not reduce crime. Criminals rarely obtain firearms through legal channels. Leading economist and criminologist Professor John Lott found in his research that murders are 49 percent higher and robberies are 75 percent higher in states with expanded background checks. This sounds like a high price to pay for the illusion of public safety and further infringement on citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.

Heath White, Torrance County Sheriff

Smart Choice van will run on Superbowl Sunday

As you know, this Sunday, February 5, is Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you are a fan of the Patriots or the Falcons—or none of the above—it will be difficult to escape the hype of the next several days. Pats fans and Falcons fans will enter into silly little friendly wagers and the bookmakers will score a ton of cash. There will be some good and not-so-good commercials and, hopefully, a half-time show worth watching.

Last year, according to one internet website, 1.2 billion—yes BILLION—chicken wings were consumed, along with 12.5 million pounds of bacon, 11.2 pounds of potato chips, and much more. I have to admit that I didn’t do my own research on this subject, but it was on the internet, so it must be true, right?

But Super Bowl Sunday isn’t only about cheering for or rooting against another team. According to Men’s Fitness Magazine, more than 325.5 million gallons of beer will be consumed during the big game. This is the part where I stand on my soap box for just a second. If you are 21 or older, you are absolutely legally allowed to drink until your heart’s content. You are not, however, legally allowed to drive after drinking.

The Torrance County DWI Prevention Program will be recognizing Super Bowl Sunday in the following ways. Law enforcement saturation patrols will be funded. Also, since my team (Geaux New Orleans Saints!) will never again see a Super Bowl unless they have tickets or are in front of the television, I will be your personal Smart Choice Ride designated driver on Sunday. We will operate from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m.

If you don’t want to call us for a ride, that’s okay, but if you are drinking, please find an alternate method of transportation to get you home.

Call us at 505-705-0332. The ride is well worth the $5 per passenger trip cost!

No matter what—Please don’t drink and drive! Make the Smart Choice.

Tracey Master, MA-Chap

Torrance County DWI Prevention Program Coordinator

Thanks for the article about small business

I just wanted to say thanks for the great article (“Biz Buzz: Unique expands in new Moriarty spot,”Jan. 18-24) you wrote up on us. Small business can certainly be a struggle, especially in a small community, but having good, supportive folks around sure does make a difference. Thanks again for “spreading the word.”

Brady Ness, Unique Enterprises