When Sheriffs Say No: Disputes Erupt Over Enforcing New Gun Laws

In States, Voting On

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico’s governor is feuding with county sheriffs, accusing them of going “rogue” by refusing to enforce new gun control legislation. Counties in Oregon are passing militia-backed measures against stricter gun laws. Washington State is warning sheriffs they could face legal action if they don’t run enhanced background checks approved by voters.

As states have approved dozens of restrictive gun control measures since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last year, efforts to resist such laws have gathered strength around the nation as rural gun owners say their rights are being violated.

“This is just a gun-grab measure,” Shane Ferrari, the sheriff of San Juan County, said of a provision that requires background checks on most gun sales in New Mexico, signed into law this month by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.

Sheriff Ferrari, a Republican, said he believed that the new law was a violation of the Second Amendment and the state’s existing gun laws, and that he would not enforce it unless a court ruling told him to do so. And all but a handful of counties in New Mexico have expressed similar opposition.

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