NM Governor Issues Controversial Emergency Order
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public for at least thirty days in response to a recent surge of gun violence in the state. The suspension applies to open and concealed carry in most public places in the metropolitan Albuquerque area, including the city's sidewalks and recreational parks. The Democratic governor is aware she might face legal challenges but was nonetheless compelled to act due to the recent shootings.
Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina and Bernalillo County Sheriff, John Allen have reservations about the order, citing civil liability conflicts, risks posed to the public by depriving them of their constitutional right to self-defense, and the dangerous precedent it sets. Allen has expressed reservations about the order, though has declared his willingness to cooperate in order to tackle the gun violence problem. “While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold.”
The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution precisely because this Governor thinks all of your rights are subservient to her lust for control. There is no obligation to comply with her illegal orders.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) September 10, 2023
The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, provides exemptions allowing for the transport of firearms to certain private locations such as gun ranges or gun stores, provided the gun has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.
John Allen further raised concerns that the measure would place officers in a difficult position with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a police reform settlement. On the other hand, Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence was in full support of the measure and noted that even if its legal fate were uncertain, it is “worth doing” if it saves even one life.
The firearms suspension was implemented in response to recent shootings, including the death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week, the August shooting death of 13-year-old Amber Archuleta in Taos County, and the shooting death of 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego while she was asleep in a motor home.
Top-ranking Republican in the state Senate, Greg Baca condemned the Governor’s decision to restrict firearms to stem violence, claiming that she has “targeted law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun order”.
The order further directs state regulators to conduct monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance and also task the state Department of Health to compile a report on gunshot victims at New Mexico hospitals.
Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000 according to the governor’s spokeswoman.
It is understandable that the Governor’s action may have raised legal and moral questions but it is equally clear that her intention of making New Mexicans safer should not be forgotten. The suspension has offered the government a possible means of containing gun violence without resorting to other oppressive measures.