In a knee-jerk reaction following the two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, the governor of New Mexico executed a move seemingly designed to take advantage of the tragedy. Calling for an immediate domestic terrorism summit, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham – a progressive Democrat, of course – compelled law enforcement officers statewide to join her in Santa Fe to solve the scourge of gun violence.
It was a good idea – regardless of suspect timing – with the tiny exception of the fact that New Mexico’s county sheriffs were not invited to attend. And that did not sit well with citizens in the Land of Enchantment. Keeping a watchful eye on the Democrat-controlled New Mexico state government is not only a full-time job – it requires serious hours of overtime.
The Desert Watchdogs Barked
The governor, seemingly immune to the wishes of her electorate, issued a statement of intentions. In part, it read:
“The following individuals have been invited to the summit: Attorney General Hector Balderas, Senate Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, House Speaker Brian Egolf, House Minority Leader James Townsend, House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, Maj. Gen. Kenneth A. Nava, Deputy Adjutant Gen. Miguel Aguilar, Public Safety Secretary Mark Shea, State Police Chief Tim Johnson and Homeland Security Secretary Jackie Lindsey.”
There’s not a sheriff to be found on the list of people who would be making critical decisions in the field. It didn’t take long for watchdog group New Mexico Patriots to release the hounds on social media, calling for an explanation from the Roundhouse – the state capital in Santa Fe. The message gained traction, national noses sniffed a trail of possible “closed door” legislation, and the hunt for an open invitation was on.
In the first session of the 2019 legislature, Grisham set in motion a series of anti-Second Amendment laws. The move sparked petitions, recall threats, and advocacy groups to fight for their constitutional rights. A lawsuit was even filed against NM’s secretary of state for not allowing petitions against newly enacted laws.
New Mexico is comprised of 33 counties. Out of 33 sheriffs, 30 signed a letter by the New Mexico Sheriffs Association vowing not to assist in enforcing certain gun control and to retain Second Amendment sanctuary zones.
Perhaps that was the reason behind snubbing the sheriffs.
Liberty Nation spoke with A. Blair Dunn, the attorney for the New Mexico Patriots Advocacy Coalition in its lawsuit against Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver over petition denials. Attempting to understand why Grisham made the decision to exclude the county sheriffs, we asked Dunn what his take was on the obvious rebuke. He made no bones about it:
“Sheriffs are absolutely law enforcement here in New Mexico and are ultimately the highest authority in the county for law enforcement. Excluding the sheriffs in a discussion over domestic terrorism is bizarre and not normal.”
Move Over Little Dog, The Big Dog’s Coming In
The New Mexico State Sheriffs Association agreed with Dunn. It tagged San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari and Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe to represent the organization at the summit. And they didn’t bother to wait for an invite. Why they weren’t considered undeniable assets is unclear: Ferrari’s watch was shattered by a domestic terrorist event – the school shooting in Aztec, NM, in December 2017. Hogrefe oversaw the raid on the Islamic terrorist training camp in Amalia, NM.
Perhaps the governor was concerned by the other voices invited to give briefings – the Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Santa Fe Institute on cyberhate. They’re all organizations that tend to focus on the negative aspects of law enforcement. But all in all, Ferrari reported that his time at the summit was positive and sent a missive to the New Mexico Patriots:
“Those in attendance received briefings from the FBI, Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center and Santa Fe Institute on cyberhate. The focus of the meeting revolved around the recent mass shooting incidents our country has experienced and a connection to domestic terrorism. Of course you can’t have a domestic violence summit without talking about gun control. However, it was brief, and the focus remained on domestic terrorism.”
Hogrefe, Ferrari, and all of New Mexico’s top county cops should have been invited. There is simply no reason to exclude first-hand knowledge, experience, and resources when it comes to national security. Perhaps next go round, there won’t be an oversight by the governor when it comes to issuing invitations. Domestic terror events are an increasing national security threat – not a political pawn for press coverage – a lesson that the newbie governor would do well to learn.