In a rural pocket of New Mexico, Sheriff Ian Fletcher fights back against new state firearm laws he calls unconstitutional, decrying “out-of-state gun control groups” in a column the Catron Courier newspaper published this spring.
“These measures make it harder for law-abiding New Mexicans to exercise their Second Amendment rights, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” the column says.
Fletcher’s missive is part of a campaign among representatives of at least 75 cities and counties nationwide that call themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, opposing enforcement of gun background checks and emergency protection orders.
The only problem: Fletcher didn’t write the column; a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association did.
Fletcher says the letter was passed to him by a sheriffs’ association and he’s not “the NRA’s puppet.”
“I didn’t have any direct contact with the NRA, but the letter was probably a little more articulate than I might have been,” says Fletcher, who is depicted with an AR-15 on the county’s official website. “It wasn’t a cut-and-paste job. I read it and agreed.”
The nation’s firearm debate is playing out in these rural counties, where sheriffs hold broad policing authority, as well as in Denver’s suburbs, where a Republican sheriff faces recall for backing gun control laws.
broad policing authority.