Judge Blocks New Mexico’s Unconstitutional Gun Ban
A federal judge is blocking New Mexico’s restrictive new gun control measures. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Herrera Urias issued a temporary restraining order against a ban on lawful carrying of firearms ordered by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) last week.
As The Washington Stand previously reported, Lujan Grisham classified gun violence as “a statewide public health emergency” and ordered state Health Secretary Patrick Allen to publish an order banning any person “other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer” to “possess a firearm … either openly or concealed.” The ban went into effect September 8 and was slated to end October 6. The ban only applied to Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous county and home to Albuquerque, the state’s most populous city.
Several law enforcement officials had previously announced they would refuse to enforce the ban, including Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, and Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina.
Bregman told the Associated Press, “As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional.” Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen also said he didn’t want to enforce the ban, saying he wasn’t comfortable “prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.” New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez (D) also reportedly wrote a letter to Lujan Grisham, informing her that his office would not defend the order in court. He wrote, “Though I recognize my statutory obligation as New Mexico’s chief legal officer to defend state officials when they are sued in their official capacity, my duty to uphold and defend the constitutional rights of every citizen takes precedence.”
Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) filed lawsuits against Lujan Grisham’s order earlier this month, arguing it violates constitutional Second Amendment rights and petitioning the court for a temporary restraining order. State House Representative John Block (R) called for Lujan Grisham to be impeached, noting that even Tesla and Twitter owner Elon Musk backs removing the governor from office. Musk’s own comments were in response to a video in which Lujan Grisham claimed there are “exceptions” to constitutional rights. She said First and Second Amendment rights don’t apply “if there’s an emergency, and I’ve declared an emergency for a temporary amount of time.” She added, “No constitutional right, in my view… is intended to be absolute.”
Judge Urias disagreed, halting enforcement of Lujan Grisham’s ban temporarily, pending a final hearing on October 3, in which the ban is expected to be quashed entirely. Since Lujan Grisham’s order also addressed issues of drug abuse and homelessness, Urias’ ruling only blocked section 1 of the order, which suspends both open and concealed carry laws, and section 4, which allows only law enforcement officers to carry firearms.
While Urias and attorneys across the political spectrum all agreed that gun violence in Albuquerque is a serious issue, they also agreed that Lujan Grisham’s approach to the problem was itself a problem. In fact, Attorney General Torrez said that he “hopes that today’s ruling will prompt the Governor to abandon her unilateral and divisive approach to complex problems and engage in a more deliberative process that will yield tangible results for the people of New Mexico.” He added that he “is committed to the legislative process and to working with Governor Lujan Grisham to build a safer community without sacrificing the constitutional rights of our citizens.”
State Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca (R) stated, “We applaud the judge’s ruling against the governor and her unconstitutional order. The governor’s malfeasance and utter disregard for the Constitution is alarming.” He added, “By her own admission, she believes there are virtually no limits to the exercise of executive power. The Constitution says otherwise, and today, the court took action to remedy her blatant abuse of power against the citizens of New Mexico.”
Judge Urias, a Biden appointee, will hear further arguments from both Second Amendment advocates and Lujan Grisham administration officials and will issue a final ruling on October 3.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.