First, state lawmakers voted to ban firearms and other weapons in the Capitol.
Then the mayor of Estancia, Nathan Dial, along with two members of his board of trustees, passed a rule requiring people attending town meetings to be armed.
Now the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is threatening to sue Estancia if it doesn’t lift the rule.
The ACLU sent Dial, an army veteran who has served as estancia mayor since 2018, a letter Friday saying the city’s decision was “an affront to the United States Constitution, the Open Meetings Act and common sense “.
If the city’s trustees do not change course by November 30, the ACLU “will commence a lawsuit against the city for violations of the constitution and the law and seek an order prohibiting the city from enforcing the rule,” the ACLU said Maria Martinez. signed letter from Sanchez, Assistant Legal Director, ACLU of New Mexico. Attempts to reach Sanchez on Sunday, when the ACLU office is generally closed, have been unsuccessful.
When Dial was reached by phone on Sunday, the threat sounded baffled. But, he said, he plans to respond to the ACLU letters and agrees that some of the wordings of the rule, passed by 3-2 votes last Monday, may be too vague.
“I made it so vague because of the shock value,” said Dial, who said he wore a gun on his hip “almost every day, all day”.
He said he was only following in the footsteps of what state lawmakers did when they convened a session on November 1st and voted 8-5 to pass the ban effective December 6th if a special session was scheduled for Redistribution should begin.
The Estancia rule takes effect the next day.
Dial said the Estancia Rule calls on people attending town meetings to “confirm” that they are ready to defend their faith with whatever weapons they may need in such a defense.
He said that didn’t mean they had to carry guns to the meeting. He said the arms in question can be fists, knowledge, or “open carry”. It’s not meant to turn people into weapons or to make people have a weapon. “
The ACLU letter states that it doesn’t matter what type of weapon it is because the rule is incorrect or legal. It states that the rule violates the state’s Open Meeting Act by providing “a mandate that people with a weapon (or otherwise ‘legally armed’) appear at a meeting, that meeting for anyone who does not have an ‘arm’ or owns, effectively includes not wanting to carry into a public gathering. “
Dial said the state initiated the precedent, not the estancia.
“If the state can make a rule that replaces the constitution and no one is pushing it back, that is the precedent,” he said. “It’s set and I’m trying to fight back.”
During the 2019 legislative term, Dial showed up with a pistol in a holster on his hip in the Capitol when he tried to clarify the then new gun ban rules at joint meetings of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Capitol. At the time, he said he had entered the Capitol with a gun many times and had never encountered any problems or rejections.
He said his initiative was not to protect the rights of the second amendment, but to protect civil rights in general.
“Carrying a firearm openly in the state capitol is one way of expressing the First Amendment,” he said.