On Monday, armed, pro-gun activists loosely organized by Republican and outspoken pro-gun candidates in Doña Ana County amassed at the Las Cruces City Hall to protest “A Resolution to Better Ensure the Safety of Students in Las Cruces Schools.”
The protest started on the road in front of City Hall with folks carrying AR-15s and handguns, holding signs, and waving variations of the Gadsden Flag, the infamous coiled snake with the phrase “Don’t tread on me.” Most of those protestors then entered City Hall for the regular meeting and took up menacing positions around the back of the chamber with their weapons in full view of anyone coming and going. There were additional seats, added in the lobby of City Hall, that were also filled with armed supporters so that anyone from the public who may have been coming to pay a utility bill or apply for a business license was welcomed by a phalanx of people with rifles and handguns.
At least two candidates who are running in November were a part of the protest and took some credit for organizing it. William Webb is running as a Republican for Probate Judge in Doña Ana County. Last Friday he posted this on his Facebook wall:
Webb was seen carrying what he identified as a .45 caliber Glock in an inside-the-waistband concealed hostler, although it was plainly visible. Bev Courtney, who is running as a Republican for the state legislature in District 37 was also in attendance and carrying a .45 caliber Colt-design with the hammer visible cocked. Courtney runs a shooting club in Las Cruces called the American Gun Culture Club and has run unsuccessfully for City Council positions twice in the past.
You can watch coverage of the protest from our Facebook Live feed yesterday here:
The resolution would have resulted in a formal letter addressed to the State Legislature asking for smarter and safer gun laws in New Mexico and was in-line with measures being considered across the country in the wake of the Florida school shooting in February that has prompted massive student-led support. Despite the menacing presence of so many armed people in the gallery, there were some folks who did come and ask the council to support the resolution, including students from area high schools, teachers, mental health professionals, and veterans.
Ultimately the measure was tabled to allow “more discussion and practical solutions” with members of the public who were concerned about their rights but claimed they did want to see safer schools.
Back in 2016, ProgressNow New Mexico worked with Everytown For Gun Safety and the Las Cruces City Council to pass a resolution calling on the legislature to pass more comprehensive background check legislation. That effort passed in 2016 and it’s unfortunate that the pressure has mounted to the point that yesterday’s resolution was tabled.
If the Las Cruces City Council does bring the issue back up at a work session or future business meeting ProgressNow New Mexico will bring you updates. To ensure you keep up with the fight for safer and smarter gun laws in New Mexico, please sign up for our mailing list so we can alert you to future actions.