In rural New Mexico, Sheriff Ian Fletcher is fighting back against new state firearm laws he calls unconstitutional, decrying “out-of-state gun control groups” in a column for the Catron Courier.
Fletcher didn’t write the column. A National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist did, USA Today reports.
Asked about the use of pre-written letters, NRA officials called criticism of the strategy a “distraction.”
“This is a distraction being pitched to reporters by the Michael Bloomberg-financed gun control lobby in response to the public’s strong opposition to their extreme gun control measures,” said Catherine Mortensen, an NRA spokeswoman.
Fletcher’s work is part of a debate over gun background checks and emergency protection orders, known as “Red Flag” laws, that is playing out in at least 75 cities and counties nationwide that call themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” which oppose enforcement of the checks and red flag laws.
The debate is mostly confined to rural counties, where sheriffs hold broad policing authority, but also in Denver’s suburbs, where a Republican sheriff faces recall for backing gun control laws.
On one side are groups such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center. On the other are gun rights groups, such as those that organized a protest against the laws at Colorado’s Capitol on Saturday that drew hundreds waving “Don’t tread on me” flags and signs that read, “We the people will not give up our guns.” Colorado passed a “red flag law” this month, becoming the 15th state to do so. Similar legislation is pending in 20 other states.
The laws allow family, roommates or law enforcement to ask a court for a temporary order to seize firearms from those deemed to pose a significant danger to themselves or others. An emergency 14-day order can be issued for imminent risk, and a yearlong prohibition of firearm possession can be ordered.
Additional Reading: 14 States Now Have Red Flag Laws Allowing Seizures