First, state lawmakers voted to ban firearms and other weapons in the Capitol.

Then, Estancia Mayor Nathan Dial joined two members of his board of trustees in passing a rule requiring people who attend town meetings to come armed.

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is threatening to sue Estancia if it doesn’t rescind the rule.

The ACLU sent Dial, an Army veteran who has served as Estancia’s mayor since 2018, a letter Friday saying the town’s ruling is “an affront to the United States Constitution, the Open Meetings Act and common sense.”

If the town’s trustees do not change course by Nov. 30, the ACLU will “initiate a lawsuit against the town for constitutional and statutory violations and seek an order enjoining the town from enforcing the rule,” according to the letter, signed by Maria Martinez Sanchez, deputy legal director for the ACLU of New Mexico. Efforts to reach Sanchez on Sunday, when the ACLU office is generally closed, were unsuccessful.

When reached by phone Sunday, Dial sounded nonplussed about the threat. But, he said, he is planning to respond to the ACLU letter and agrees some of the language of the rule, passed on a 3-2 vote last Monday, may be too vague.

“I did it so vague for shock value,” said Dial, who said he wears a pistol on his hip “almost every day, all day.”

He said he is just following in the footsteps of what state lawmakers did when they convened a meeting on Nov. 1 and voted 8-5 to enact the ban effective Dec. 6, when a planned special session on redistricting is expected to begin.

Estancia’s rule goes into effect the next day.



Dial said the Estancia rule asks people attending town meetings to “acknowledge” they are prepared to defend their beliefs with whatever weapons they feel they need to mount such a defense.

He said that doesn’t mean they need to carry guns into the meeting. He said the arms in question can be fists, knowledge or “open carry. It’s not designed to get people up in arms or for people to have a gun.”

The ACLU letter says it doesn’t matter what kind of arms are involved because the rule is not proper or legal. It says the rule violates the state’s Open Meeting Act in that “a mandate that people show up to a meeting with a gun (or otherwise ‘legally armed’) effectively closes that meeting to anyone who does not own an ‘arm’ or who does not wish to carry one into a public meeting.”

Dial said the state initiated the precedent, not Estancia.

“If the state can make a rule that supersedes the Constitution and nobody pushes back on it, that’s the precedent,” he said. “It’s been set, and I’m trying to fight back.”

During the 2019 legislative session, Dial showed up at the Capitol with a pistol in a holster on his hip as he sought to seek clarification on then new rules banning guns at joint sessions of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Capitol. At that time, he said he’d often entered the Capitol with a gun before and never encountered any problems or pushback.

He said his initiative is not about protecting Second Amendment rights but civil rights in general.

“An open carry of a firearm in the state Capitol is a form of expression of the First Amendment,” he said.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(35) comments

Khal Spencer

Ok, thanks to the Albuquerque Journal, below is the actual wording.

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https://www.abqjournal.com/2448778/new-legally-armed-rule-has-critics-gunning-for-estancia.html

Estancia’s four-person Board of Trustees split 2-2 on the “legally armed” rule. Dial broke the tie with his affirmative vote.

The rule reads: “In order to attend an Estancia Town Council meeting, one must be legally Armed. By entering this meeting, you acknowledge that you are prepared to defend yourself and beliefs with what you believe is necessary to do so. (This definition is at the discretion of the Executive Branch.)

“Any and all Religious, Medical or Ethical exceptions will be honored without question.”

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This truly is a nothingburger. Nothing in it about having to bring a gun. It is suitably vague. You can bring a copy of the Constitution and Bible and be suitably "armed".

Also, this convinces me my decision to throw my ACLU renewal in the recycling bin was a good one. When I asked, repeatedly, for the NM ACLU to do a detailed review of the first and then second, successful, attempt to put an ERPO law into effect, I was stonewalled, finally sent a brief reply on the first attempt and then totally ignored on the second until after the Governor's signature was dry on the paper. It seems to me that the ACLU will go out of its way to react to this nothingburger, but go out of its way to avoid taking a position on a statewide law with real consequences.

Eventually, I got some input from CATO, which wrote a long piece on the various ERPO laws in effect and their varying standards of evidence and other procedural, due process controls. Ours is one of the weaker for anyone served with an ERPO. It uses the lowest standard of proof (preponderance of evidence) and there is no right to counsel.

In finally getting back to me, the NM ACLU said that well, its only a civil procedure. Sure it is--impacting an enumerated right.

But on this goofy little Estancia issue, the ACLU goes bonkers. Fine, whatever.

Khal Spencer

This does seem bizarre and likely unenforceable if for no other reason that void for vagueness.

townofestancia.com/uploads/11.15.2021%20Regular%20Meeting%20Agenda.docx

"4.0 To discuss an Executive Proposal to implement a rule stating that in order to attend a Town of Estancia Board Meeting, one must be legally armed. – Discussion Only "

Mike Johnson

Thanks Khal, this answers the questions, this is a tempest in a teapot, just an in-your-face item to anger the left wing crazies.

Emily Hartigan

1) all constitutional rights, are subject to "reasonable time, place and manner" restrictions.

2) requiring anyone to carry a gun in order to participate in the public political process is not only clearly unconstitutional, it's bizarre.

Janet Eduardo

I'm disappointed that no one asked him what "well-regulated militia" he was a member of.

Emily Koyama

Perhaps because it's irrelevant.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Joseph Tafoya

There was a time the ACLU was an organization looking out for the rights of the average people. They have since become the henchman for the liberal left.

Janet Eduardo

The Constitution of the US DOES have a liberal bias.

Emily Hartigan

[thumbup]

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]Well said Mr. Tafoya, it is nothing but a far left wing political pressure group today, nothing like the '60s at all.

Khal Spencer

Once again, the New Mexican writes a story long on raising people's blood pressure and short on factual content. Not to mention, with factual errors.

Someone with the New Mexican, please post the text of this allegedly dreadful document so we can at least argue about something specific? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Khal Spencer

I'd want to read the resolution that Estancia passed before I got my knickers in a knot. If it is non-binding argle bargle, it has as much legal force as the...ahem...San Francisco non binding resolution that said the NRA is a domestic terrorist organization.

Maybe we all ought to go back to governing rather than posturing.

Peter Romero

No permit required for open carry in NM.

Khal Spencer

An "open carry permit"?? No such thing in New Mexico. I wish someone at the New Mexican would fact check these articles. Does the reporter mean a concealed carry permit?

Mike Johnson

True Khal, so many do not understand NM is an open carry state, I do it all the time.

Miranda Viscoli

This mayor is setting his city up to be sued. This goes against the NM preemption law. He is also endangering the lives of Estanica residents who come to meetings.

Khal Spencer

It does seem to violate preemption. I think the State Capitol is different as the legislators can set rules.

But the Santa Fe County Ordinance posted on the Rail Trail prohibiting firearms likewise violates the preemption clause. I wrote an email to the County Attorney reminding him of the preemption clause and he basically told me to pound sand. I'm not in the mood to challenge it just for the sake of challenge (unless some good lawyers out there want to represent me pro bono), but if it is ever enforced, it will be thrown out. Unless, of course, the county defines the Rail Trail as a "school".

Too much posturing and chest beating these days. I wish people would beam down. Libs owning conservatives and conservatives owning libs has gone beyond stupid.

Mike Johnson

Thanks for the tip Khal, a new trail I can use with my S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum on my hip.......

Mike Johnson

Excellent, my kinda town.....

Bryan Wehrli

"Open carry of a firearm in the state Capitol is a form of expression of the First Amendment"? This sounds like 2nd Amendment fundamentalism.

Stefanie Beninato

You know, Dan, the internet could have at least answered your newcomer questions as to where Estancia is etc.

The voters of Estancia should recall Dail and the other two--oh, he doesn't like it that the state legislature finally came to its senses and bans guns from the roundhouse during sessions.. I guess with the Rittenhouse verdict, 2nd amendment trumps the First. IMHO Dail and the other two are dumber than dirt and a poor example of those governing New Mexico.

Mike Johnson

The best thing about the Rittenhouse verdict was being able to listen to liberals whining in the morning......

Joseph Tafoya

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Stefanie Beninato

I guess you won't be saying that if it was one of your relatives who got shot by white supremacist macho boy-man Rittenhouse.

Mike Johnson

Seriously? I don't have relatives that are rioters, looter, arsonists, and convicted criminals out trying to destroy people's property. My family is much better than that, speak for yourself.

Dan Frazier

Some basic information is missing from this article: Where is Estancia? How big is the town? What are the political leanings of the town? What do the residents think of this new rule?

The ACLU is going to win this battle. I am glad for that. So much trouble comes from the common misunderstanding of the 2nd Amendment.

Emily Koyama

You're absolutely correct!

There should be no confusion or misunderstanding....

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

Crystal clear.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]

Khal Spencer

"ammosexuals" Ok, since the New Mexican allows that, do I have to resort to "hoplophobes"?

Janet Eduardo

You folks ALWAYS forget the other part, you know, the part about a "WELL-REGULATED MILITIA". Pretty sure you're not a member. Neither are most of the ammosexuals posting.

Mike Johnson

That's where the New Mexico Civil Guard comes in......

Emily Koyama

Janet, you have regurgitated the tired old "well-regulated militia" argument, which has been soundly rejected by the courts as a way to try to over-regulate firearms ownership.

The clear intent was, for the "people" to be allowed to "keep and bear arms", so that in the event that a "well-regulated militia" needed to be formed, the armed people would be available to do so. Period.

Khal Spencer

Janet, if you want to get into an insult contest, I'm sure others here will oblige you. As far as the 2A, as the Supreme Court has made clear in Heller, it is an individual right not connected to service in the militia.

As far as the Estancia resolution or whatever it is, it sounds like yet more examples of people being stupid to "own" the other side.

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