In response to a recent surge in gun violence, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an emergency order on Friday, temporarily suspending the right to carry firearms in public areas throughout Albuquerque and the surrounding county for a minimum of 30 days.
Governor Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, acknowledged that legal challenges were expected but emphasized her obligation to take action in light of recent shootings, including the tragic death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium earlier in the week.
The enforcement of this firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, will impact both open and concealed carry in most public spaces, ranging from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks. Notably, police officers and licensed security personnel are exempt from this temporary ban. Violators could face civil penalties and fines of up to $5,000, as confirmed by gubernatorial spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney. However, the order does allow residents to transport firearms to certain private locations, such as gun ranges or stores, provided that the firearm is secured with a trigger lock or another mechanism preventing discharge.
It is worth noting that not all law enforcement officials are in complete agreement with Governor Lujan Grisham’s decision. Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina stated that his department would not enforce the order, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen expressed concerns about potential constitutional rights conflicts.
Governor Lujan Grisham, speaking at a press conference alongside law enforcement officials, including the Albuquerque area district attorney, welcomed the debate surrounding public safety measures. She acknowledged the reservations expressed by law enforcement officials, particularly regarding potential civil liability and the restriction of law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to self-defense.
Enforcing this order may also create challenges for Albuquerque police in their dealings with the U.S. Department of Justice concerning police reform settlements, as noted by police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos.
Governor Lujan Grisham justified the order by referencing several recent shootings in Albuquerque, including the tragic road rage shooting that claimed the life of 11-year-old Froyland Villegas and injured a woman outside a minor league baseball stadium. She also cited the case of 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego, who was fatally shot while sleeping in a motor home, and the shooting death of 13-year-old Amber Archuleta in Taos County.
Lujan Grisham emphasized the urgent need to address gun violence in New Mexico, stating that when residents fear being in public spaces or attending events due to the constant threat of violence, there is a fundamental issue that must be addressed.
The highest-ranking Republican in the state Senate, Senator Greg Baca of Belen, criticized the governor’s actions as targeting law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun order, particularly in the wake of unsolved crimes.
On the other hand, Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, praised the governor’s order as a courageous and necessary step in the fight against gun violence, even though its legal fate remains uncertain. Viscoli argued that if the order can save even one life, it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Governor Lujan Grisham has previously signed multiple pieces of legislation aimed at restricting access to firearms in New Mexico, including a “red flag” law and an extension of background check requirements for private gun sales. Additionally, she has signed a ban on firearms possession for individuals under permanent protective orders for domestic violence.
As part of Friday’s order, state regulators will conduct monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with gun laws, and the state Department of Health will compile a report on gunshot victims in New Mexico hospitals, including demographic information and firearm details, to better understand the circumstances surrounding these incidents.