Battle Over Guns in Historic Locale

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posted on September 14, 2011
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Two of the primary participants of the Lincoln County War, as it was later dubbed by historians, included former buffalo hunter and Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, and then-teenager William Henry Antrim, known colloquially as Billy the Kid.

But many of the folks who live in Lincoln County today are no less passionate about their firearms and their right to carry them for personal protection than citizens were in the frontier days. And dozens of them showed up at a public meeting in Ruidoso this week to protest Mayor Ray Alborn's executive order banning firearms from village buildings except for law enforcement personnel.

Alborn took the action after Ruidoso resident Tony Seno attended a meeting in July while wearing a pistol. He was asked to remove it by Police Chief Joe Magill before going to the podium to speak to the council.

New Mexico law allows open carry of firearms, concealed carry with a permit and in 1986, the state Constitution was amended to prevent preemptive local firearms regulations.

The Alamogordo Daily News reported Sept. 14 that dozens of local firearms advocates crowded the chambers of the Ruidoso Village Council during a special meeting to address the mayor's action.

Seno, the first person to speak during the public input portion of the Sept. 13 meeting, called on the council to put the ban on its next regular meeting agenda and overrule the mayor. Additional speakers called for the mayor's resignation, followed by cheers from the crowd.

An opinion released by the New Mexico Attorney General's Office Sept. 13 addressed the right to prohibit concealed weapons in state courtrooms and district attorney's offices but did not mention municipal locations.

Phil Sisneros, the AG's director of communications, suggested the matter could be decided in court.

And that would be a far cry from the frontier justice served in the Lincoln County War—the one in the 1870s, that is.

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