Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker is not alone in his stated refusal to enforce any federal gun ban, including assault weapons.
Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller says Sheriff Matt Murray's office will not support or enforce a federal firearms ban if enacted.
"We believe in and support the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, guaranteeing the right of the people to keep and bear arms and that right shall not be infringed," said Waller, who is the department's spokesman.
Hooker and Waller stand unified in their opposition as House Democrats plan to unveil 15 proposals for curbing gun violence that resemble President Barack Obama's plan and will include a call for banning assault weapons, people familiar with the package said Wednesday according to The Associated Press.
"If the government impeded the right to possess firearms, it would create a nation of potential victims," Waller said. "Criminals look for opportunities with the path of least resistance. They are less likely to act if the strong possibility of resistance exists."
Since the county sheriffs are elected officials, they feel the need to stand by the principles they were elected on, including their support of the Constitution and more specifically, the Second Amendment.
Although Hooker stands by what he said weeks ago in an interview with the Portales News-Tribune, he wants people to take it as just that and not as a protest to the government.
"I spent 22 years in the military fighting for freedom," Hooker said. "I'm not trying to go against the government; I'm just trying to support the Constitution as it was written. It's very simplistic, I believe in the Constitution and the amendments of the Constitution, one of which is the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. It doesn't need to be read into further than that."
Waller and Hooker say they do not take any oath to upheld federal laws and their oaths of office specifically state they will support the Constitution as well as the laws of New Mexico.
Waller added there aren't too many ties between his office and the federal government, but on rare occasions, members of the Region V Drug Task Force have limited authority to assist in the investigation of federal narcotics violations.
Both men say their offices do not enforce federal laws either; rather they enforce state laws and county ordinances.
Hooker says if his office receives any federal money, it's not directly from the federal government.
"If there's something that comes from the federal government as far as grant funding, it still comes through the state and the state filters it, such as money for traffic safety," Hooker said.
Although Hooker's opposition on gun control was met with support from many residents in his county, critics questioned the legality of the situation and wondered if Hooker could pick and choose which laws he wanted to enforce.
"State sheriffs have to uphold state law and I'm sure they're obligated to enforce the Constitution of the U.S. and Constitution of the state of New Mexico," said Portales attorney Steve Doerr. "They do not enforce (federal laws), that's what federal law enforcement and U.S. marshals do."
Doerr said if a federal weapons ban was enacted as the result of an executive decision, federal marshals and agencies would enforce specific federal laws.
But even if legally the Roosevelt and Curry County Sheriff's Offices are in their right to not enforce such a ban, Doerr said there may be consequences.
"The feds try to extort or force people (into enforcing laws) in the past by withholding federal money, so I'm not going to say they won't do that," Doerr said. "Anything is possible."
Waller says he believes individuals have the right to defend themselves and sees a federal gun ban as only putting American people in harm's way.
"As the old adage goes, if the government outlaws firearms, only outlaws will have firearms," Waller said.
Waller added for the last several years, deputies with the Curry County Sheriff's Office have worked with various schools, public and private, in Curry County, assisting school staff with identifying and responding to potential threats.
"We cannot continue to create and host soft targets," Waller said. "If a 'no gun zone' exists without enforcement of that rule, law abiding citizens will comply, while those with evil intent, foreign and domestic, will see an opportunity knowing there will be little or no resistance."