The New Mexico governor’s surprise executive order temporarily banning gun carry in parts of the state has drawn criticism from all sides of the gun debate.
U.S. District Court Judge David Urias put New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 30-day gun carry ban for two counties on hold on Sept. 13, deeming the order unconstitutional.
Second Amendment advocacy groups hailed the temporary restraining order for the ban affecting Albuquerque and Bernalillo County as a victory and vowed to continue their fight.
“We are ecstatic that Judge Urias agreed with us that Governor Grisham simply can’t trash the Constitution whenever she sees fit,” Erich Pratt, senior vice president for Gun Owners of America, wrote on the group’s website.
Gun Owners of America and its legal arm, the Gun Owner’s Foundation, and New Mexico resident Ryan Donk had sued to block the order.
The Second Amendment Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, and Bernalillo County resident Zachary Fort sued Ms. Grisham; Patrick M. Allen, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health; Jason R. Bowie, secretary of the Department of Public Safety; and W. Troy Weisler, chief of the New Mexico State Police.
“We are delighted that the court wasted no time clamping down on Gov. Lujan Grisham’s clearly unconstitutional suspension of Second Amendment rights,” Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Allen M. Gottlieb wrote in a statement the day of the decision.
“No governor has the authority to arbitrarily deny constitutional rights, especially on the flimsy argument this is a public health emergency.”
The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) and Albuquerque resident Foster Haines had also filed suit.
Dudley Brown, NAGR president, wrote in a statement after the decision was announced, “Governor Grisham’s tyranny is temporarily in check today. Her own Attorney General has refused to defend her in court, and the Biden-appointed judge won’t back her play.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Ms. Grisham’s Sept. 8 executive order named gun violence in Albuquerque a public health emergency. Her order banned carrying firearms in public for 30 days, drawing criticism from across the political spectrum.
Law enforcement officials, Second Amendment advocates, and even activists for gun control have publicly said the executive order crossed the line.
“It’s unconstitutional, so there’s no way we can enforce that order,” Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said during a news conference. “This ban does nothing to curb gun violence.”
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, a Democrat party leader appointed by Ms. Grisham, joined Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina in refusing to enforce the ban.
Gun control activist David Hogg expressed his reservations in a Sept. 9 post on X.
“I support gun safety, but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution,” Mr. Hogg’s post reads.
Ms. Grisham said she issued the orders after “a substantive and earnest conversation” with Albuquerque and Bernalillo County law enforcement and public officials.
The governor reportedly met with top law enforcement officials on Sept. 8 and told them details of her plan just moments before her news conference, Mr. Allen said. He said he was shocked and irritated after law enforcement officials had told the governor they were not on board. He said there are better ways to address the issue.
“I have to turn my irritation and anger into solutions,” he said, indicating that he would, among other things, push state lawmakers to call for a special session to address violent shootings in Albuquerque.
According to the order, civilians with carry permits would have to place guns in locked boxes and use trigger locks or other means to prevent them from being fired before carrying them in public. Licensed security guards and police officers would be exempt from the order.
Grisham: No Rights Are Absolute
During the Sept. 8 press conference, Ms. Grisham said that no constitutional rights are absolute and that, as governor, she must suspend certain rights when she has declared an emergency.
“No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute,” she continued. “There are restrictions on free speech; there are restrictions on my freedoms.”
Second Amendment activists take issue with her view.
“The order was so patently unconstitutional, even gun control advocates have distanced themselves from her actions. We look forward to prevailing in this case as it continues,” Adam Kraut, executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation, wrote in a Sept. 13 statement.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.