Home invasion, gun safety topics at RPD Town Hall

March 11, 2011 • Local News

Bobby Villegas and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce sponsored its second Town Hall meeting at S.O.Y. Mariachi, Wednesday. Topics under discussion were home invasion and gun safety. Of ficer Erica O’Bryon, RPD spokeswoman, discussed home safety and protection. Levi Moody and Adam Villegas represented New Mexico Firearms Training Associates. O’Bryon went to basics, with prevention being better than cure.

“Don’t answer the door to strangers. Don’t tell people you are home alone. We tell our kids that over and over again. What is true for children is also true for adults.” She said the same advice applies to phone calls. “Never tell anyone you’re alone.” Often people gain entry by asking for help, says O’Bryon. “…. we see a lot of fake emergencies. If someone approaches you saying they have an emergency, don’t let them in.

Call 911 yourself while they wait outside. If it’s a real emergency, the police can take care of it, and if it’s not, the person will [auth] leave. Nine times out of 10, the person will disappear.” She had common-sense tips for people going on vacation, such as arranging to have someone pick up flyers, papers and mail. “Although it doesn’t happen often, when it snows ask someone to make tracks in the snow.

Criminals will target homes where the snow has been left undisturbed.” Villegas elaborated. “It’s all about perception. It’s great to have a dog, but if you don’t have a dog, a big chewed-on dog dish and a heavy chain in the yard will give the impression that you do. What you are trying to do is make your home appear a harder target than others.”Moody provided tips about what people should do if they surprise a burglar in their home.

“Fire extinguisher. If you step in the door, do you know where it is? The same fire extinguisher that can protect you in a fire can also protect you against a burglar.” A member of the audience suggested people carry car keys into their bedrooms and hit the car alarm button if someone gets into the garage. Moody gave the cardinal rules of gun safety. Treat all guns as if they were loaded. Keep your finger off the trigger.

Never point the gun at something unless you are willing to destroy it, and be sure of your target. Villegas emphasized the importance of gun storage, particularly in homes with children. New Mexico law on selfdefense was discussed. ”In New Mexico we have the right to protect ourselves,” said Moody.

New Mexico is an opencarry state. This means people have the right to carry a gun as long as it is kept in full view. Moody listed exceptions to this open-carry rule — liquor stores, bars, hospitals and financial institutions. Carrying a concealed weapon requires special training and a concealcarry license.

Both O’Bryon and Moody noted the distinction between defending another human life and defending property. “Shooting someone over a lawn mower could leave the shooter criminally liable,” said Moody.

“With the right to bear arms comes responsibility,” he explained. Attorney Jesse R. Cosby attended as a member of the audience. He was able to clarify some points of law.

If a person has discharged a weapon resulting in injury or death, the person has to satisfy “objective reasonableness” and “subjective reasonableness” in court. “Is it reasonable to think your life was in danger?” asked Cosby.

The protection of a good Samaritan law, he said, is ill-defined. “You have got to know that the person is not the aggressor.” Cosby pointed out that in matters of self-defense New Mexico laws are not clearcut. Cosby said if citizens are concerned, they should contact their state representatives and tell them that they support the Castle Law. The Castle Law presumes that “if there’s someone in your home, then he means you harm,” said Cosby.

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