Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) issued a landmark executive order this week temporarily blocking residents in Albuquerque and its surrounding suburbs from carrying firearms in public following a spate of gun deaths including the killing of an 11-year-old boy this week, sparking prominent Republicans to quickly criticize the measure—while law enforcement officials warn it might not be enforceable.
Lujan Grisham signed the executive order on Friday, declaring a 30-day emergency to temporarily ban open and concealed firearm carry in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, which contains Albuquerque, a city of more than 560,000 people.
In the conference, Lujan Grisham admitted she expects a legal challenge, saying that “showing a little courage, even when the clarity of that courage will be challenged, is worth the fight,” while arguing that “no constitutional right is intended to be absolute,” comparing the temporary ban to restrictions that exist on free speech.
Its legality and enforceability have already proven to be roadblocks, with Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina saying the city’s police department will not be responsible for enforcing it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen cautioning the order “challenges the foundation of our Constitution” (New Mexico State Police is tasked with enforcing the order).
Republican lawmakers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 presidential candidate, quickly capitalized on the furor, with DeSantis declaring: “Your 2nd Amendment rights SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), also criticized the ban in a post on X, calling the decision “flawed” and asking: “If a governor felt like declaring an emergency right before an election they’d be to suspend the 19th Amendment and stop women from voting [sic]
According to the ban, which is classified as a public health order and took effect immediately, open and concealed carry will be banned on public property for 30 days “with certain exceptions,” including for security guards and law enforcement agents—with violators facing fines up to $5,000.
New Mexico law requires a permit for concealed carry but not open carry, making it one of 38 states that allow unpermitted open carry—which is prohibited in five states (California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York), while it’s allowed with a permit in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
What To Watch For
A potential lawsuit. Lujan Grisham said on Friday she expects a legal challenge and admitted she was uncertain about its legality if it’s challenged in court. The order was the latest initiative in the state intended to curb gun violence, and the latest to face questions about its enforcement. In 2020, Lujan Grisham signed a so-called red-flag law, allowing state courts to temporarily seize firearms from people determined to be dangerous to themselves or others, after a group of rural sheriffs opposed the legislation arguing it violated constitutional rights to due process and the right to bear arms. In response, Lujan Grisham urged any member of law enforcement who opts out of enforcing the law to resign.
493. That’s how many mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass shootings in which four or more people are killed or injured. More than 520 people were killed in those shootings, according to the GVA.
In New Mexico, gun violence is estimated to kill 389 people each year, on average, with 18.3 dying per 100,000 people, making the Land of Enchantment the eighth highest state for gun deaths per capita in the U.S., according to data from gun violence prevention advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. In her executive order, Lujan Grisham said the rate of gun deaths in the state jumped 43% between 2009 and 2018, significantly higher than the 18% increase over the same time nationwide.
Democratic lawmakers in recent years have pushed a series of bills intended to reduce gun violence in the U.S., including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last summer, strengthening gun control measures including by closing the so-called boyfriend loophole that had allowed domestic abusers to own guns, and by making gun trafficking a federal crime. In March, President Joe Biden also issued an executive order to strengthen background checks for firearms dealers, including by ordering federal agencies to develop plans to prevent gun dealers with revoked licenses from being able to sell firearms. Other Democratic-led efforts to curb gun violence, however, have failed in Congress over staunch opposition from GOP lawmakers. Last year, a proposed ban on assault weapons failed in the Senate after passing in the then-Democrat-held House, after the bill faced heavy pushback from Republicans who argued the ban would violate Second Amendment rights. Many on the right have instead pushed for legislation promoting school security and mental health in an attempt to reduce gun violence, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying in March: “We’ve got to deal with mental illness.”
Governor bans carrying guns in Albuquerque after 11-year-old killed (Santa Fe New Mexican)