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New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham’s emergency firearm carrying ban sparks constitutional questions

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an emergency order Friday suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in response to a wave of deadly shootings.

The firearms suspension is classified as an emergency public health order and applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, ranging from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks.

The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by metropolitan Albuquerque. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.

Under the order, residents may still transport their firearms to some private sites, such as a gun range or gun store, provided the firearm has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.

The action set off questions by New Mexico law enforcement officials, supporters of gun control and Second Amendment advocates as to whether Ms. Lujan Grisham‘s move was constitutional. 

“I support gun safety laws. However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution. No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat on X, the platform previously known as Twitter. “There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”

Gun control activist David Hogg posted on X, “I support gun safety but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”

Ms. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said she expects legal challenges to her order but decided to go forward with it, because of recent shootings, including the death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week.

The governor said that state police would be responsible for enforcing the month-long order for what amounts to civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000.

Other gun control advocates lauded the move by Ms. Lujan Grisham.

“If it saves one life, then it’s worth doing,” Miranda New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence said.

However, other New Mexico law enforcement are at odds with Ms. Lujan Grisham and have said they would not enforce the order.

Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina said he would not enforce it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he is apprehensive about it because there are too many constitutional issues surrounding the emergency order.

“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Mr. Allen said in a statement Friday. “I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, also distanced himself from the governor’s emergency. Mr. Keller posted on X that the Albuquerque Police Department would not be responsible for enforcing the order.

Ms. Lujan Grisham conceded that not all law enforcement officials agreed with the order.

“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” she said at a news conference, flanked by law enforcement officials, including the Albuquerque district attorney.

New Mexico Republican lawmakers and Second Amendment advocates have said Ms. Lujan Grisham is trampling on citizen’s rights and should be removed from office.

The top Republican in the state Senate condemned her actions Friday to restrict guns to stop violent crime.

“Public heath order for gun control? Stand strong, Bernalillo County! Stand up, New Mexico! We are not the criminals. Our rights are being trampled upon,” Sen. Greg Baca of Belen said on X.

State Reps. Stefani Lord and John Block went further on Saturday and called for the impeachment of Gov. Lujan Grisham.

The New Mexico Shooting Sports Association said on X, in response to the suspension order, “We will not comply.”

In a subsequent post, the activist organization stated, “The NM Bill of Rights guarantees the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, and all other lawful purposes.”

The group added, “Under the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, signed by Lujan Grisham, a person whose rights are violated may sue to recover for damages and obtain injunctive relief.”

They noted that the damages may be awarded up to two million dollars per person whose rights were violated.

“At risk of stating what should be obvious, deliberately violating the Constitution is next-level illegal. How soon can this person be removed from office?” posted billionaire tech executive Elon Musk on X.  

• This story is based in part on wire reports.

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