Gun control group: Emails highlight NRA link with sheriffs backing 'gun sanctuaries'

Gun control group: Emails highlight NRA link with sheriffs backing 'gun sanctuaries'
© Greg Nash

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was more involved than was previously disclosed with a group encouraging sheriffs to back "gun sanctuaries," a U.S. gun control advocacy group said on Monday.

The Brady Campaign said emails obtained by the group show that the NRA was in close contact with New Mexico Sheriffs Association President Tony Mace in the lead up to and following the passage of laws to expand gun background checks in the state.

“The NRA ... directly influenced and supported Mace’s crusade against the new GVP [gun violence prevention] laws," the report reads.

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"Through these lobbyists, the NRA authored and sent Mace and the sheriffs documents such as op-eds to send to their local newspapers (in the sheriffs’ own names) and letters to send to state and local politicians opposing the GVP legislation. There is no indication the sheriffs disclosed that the NRA was behind the work product.”

Under the so-called Second Amendment sanctuary movement, sheriffs in at least four states — New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Illinois — have vowed to refuse to enforce laws that they consider to be infringements on the right to bear arms.

In comments to Reuters, the NRA denied playing a role in the gun sanctuary movement, saying its assistance to the sheriffs was limited to defeating state gun control legislation. 

"We have always said that they need to enforce the laws that are on the books," NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told the news service, calling the Brady report "misinformation."

The NRA denied their involvement in the gun sanctuary movement in a statement to The Hill.

“This is a distraction being pitched to reporters by the Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergSunday shows - Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet grabs spotlight Bloomberg: Next generation of Democrats needs to 'earn their spurs' Bloomberg: McConnell may allow gun reform vote to boost reelection chances MORE-financed gun control lobby in response to the public’s strong opposition to their extreme gun control measures,” NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen said.

“They are trying to draw attention away from the fact that the New York-style gun control they are pushing on New Mexicans will make law-abiding citizens less safe and won’t do anything to deter criminals.”

Brady said it received 1,600 documents under New Mexico’s public records act, including 24 email correspondences between the NRA and Mace.

“The documents Brady acquired reveal that the NRA was actively involved in the NMSA’s efforts in drafting the (sanctuary) Declaration; recruiting sheriffs to lobby state and political politicians to oppose the GVP bills and to adopt so-called Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions; and encouraging sheriffs to not enforce state laws,” Brady said.

Brady has also made public records requests in Nevada related to the NRA's connection to gun sanctuaries there.