Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday announced a scaled-back version of her earlier sweeping ban on the public carry of firearms in the Albuquerque area, even as legal challenges to her Sept. 8 order continue to mount.
The governor, flanked by Democratic lawmakers, said at a news conference Friday that she was curtailing her order by banning firearms only in public parks and playgrounds.
“We have a very serious problem in our communities that require serious, immediate results,” Lujan Grisham said at the Bernalillo County Commission Chambers in Albuquerque.
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association of America and the Republican Party of New Mexico have weighed in, filing a petition asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to strike down the governor’s order in its entirety.
U.S. District Judge David Urias on Wednesday issued a ruling that temporarily blocked portions of Lujan Grisham’s public health order suspending concealed- or open-carry of firearms in public places throughout Bernalillo County.
Urias issued the temporary restraining order after hearing from attorneys who filed five federal lawsuits challenging the governor’s order. The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until Oct. 3 and leaves in place parts of her order.
Lujan Grisham noted Friday that despite the setback, even opponents of the order acknowledge that gun violence is a crisis in New Mexico.
“I want to point out that the conversation in that court was pretty clear that we are not wrong about this emergency, or about the issues related to violence, gun violence and public safety in general,” she said.
Lujan Grisham issued the order in response to recent shootings, including the death last week of an 11-year-old boy outside Isotopes Park in a road-rage incident and the shooting death of a 5-year-old girl who was asleep in a mobile home. The governor also cited the shooting death in August of a 13-year-old girl in Taos County.
The petition filed by the NRA and the Republican Party asked justices to strike down the order “and clarify for the governor, and posterity, that gun violence and drug abuse are not ‘public health emergencies,’” the petition said.
Paul Kennedy, an Albuquerque attorney who filed the suit, said the petition argues that the state’s Public Health Emergency Response Act — the statute Lujan Grisham relied on to issue the order — pertains only to infectious disease outbreaks.
“It is clearly not directed to social problems,” Kennedy said of the law. Gun violence “doesn’t even come close to being a public health emergency.”
The petition argues that Lujan Grisham’s order violates both the U.S. Constitution and the New Mexico Constitution, which guarantee the right to bear arms.
The petition argues that Lujan Grisham violated the separation of powers between the Legislature and the executive branch by “cutting the Legislature out of things that are clearly the purview of the Legislature,” such as the regulation of firearms, Kennedy said.
The petition also takes issue with sections of the public health order that are left in place by Urias’ temporary restraining order — in particular, a requirement that the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department “conduct monthly inspections of licensed firearms dealers.” The petition argues that Regulation and Licensing lacks the jurisdiction to regulate gun dealers.
Other sections of the order that remain in force include reporting requirements for gunshot victims at New Mexico hospitals and wastewater testing for illegal substances at public schools.
In a related development, four Albuquerque City Councilors Dan Lewis, Brook Bassan, Louie Sanchez and Renée Grout said Friday they are introducing resolutions urging the state Legislature to take action on public safety and behavioral health and affirming the city’s support for the right to bear arms.