After a series of deadly shootings, including a pair of recent mass shootings and the deaths of three children this summer, New Mexico’s governor has imposed a temporary ban on the public carrying of firearms in certain parts of the state.
“The time for standard measures is over,” Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement announcing the emergency order on September 8.
“And if New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to walk their children to school, to leave a baseball game — when their very right to exist is threatened at every turn by the prospect of violence — something is very wrong ” she added. .
Effective immediately, the emergency order temporarily suspends open and concealed carry laws in Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County for at least 30 days, with limited exceptions, in what she called a “cooling off period” to combat a surge in gun violence.
The order follows the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy on his way home from a minor league baseball game this week, and the murder of a four-year-old girl in her bedroom last month.
“These are disgusting acts of violence that have no place in our communities,” the governor said in a statement this week. “This administration has done meaningful work to pass legislation, support law enforcement, and significantly increase public safety resources to curb violence. But it is clear that we need to do more.”
The order also directs a state agency to conduct monthly inspections of licensed firearms dealers and directs the state health department to prepare a report on gunshot victims at hospitals across the state, among other things.
The ban prohibits firearms on state property, including parks, state buildings and schools. Exceptions are made for law enforcement officers and authorized security guards. Residents with a permit to carry firearms can possess these weapons on private property as long as they are carried in a lock box or have a trigger lock or other mechanism that prevents the weapon from being fired.
The governor’s new approach to combating gun proliferation and the growing gun violence crisis is expected to draw constitutional challenges from right-wing groups and Second Amendment organizations.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he is “wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to conflicts over civil liability, as well as the potential risks of depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutional right to self-defense.”
Echoing statements from other Second Amendment and firearms groups opposed to reform measures, senior Republican State Senator Greg Baca of New Mexico accused the governor of targeting “law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun order.” New Mexico House Republican Leader Ryan Lane accused the governor of invoking the 11-year-old’s death to pursue an “anti-gun agenda” that is “literally killing New Mexicans every day.”
Far-right social media personalities have lashed out at the governor, calling for her arrest and labeling her a “dictator.”
“I’ve warned everyone that we expect an immediate challenge. As you write this, we’re probably going to get a challenge, and that’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said at a news conference. “But I have to take a strong stand, otherwise I will simply ignore the fact that we have lost an 11-year-old and another child.”
In recent years, the governor has signed several laws to restrict access to guns, including a 2020 “red flag” law that allows law enforcement agencies to ask courts to temporarily remove firearms from people who could pose a danger to themselves or others. She has also banned firearm ownership for people under permanent protection orders for domestic violence.
About half of US states have developed unlicensed concealed carry legislation, which was quickly passed by Republican lawmakers in the US as part of what right-wing activists have called a “constitutional carry” movement in recognition of the Second Amendment.
Governor Lujan Grisham has also requested federal support from the US Department of Justice and the White House.
“Too often, every time something happens, I hear someone wants to bring in more federal resources,” she said. “I don’t need more federal agents in Albuquerque. Do you know what I need? I need more federal prosecutors.”