Sep 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Democrats question legality of New Mexico's temporary gun ban order

Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, speaks during a New Mexico Democrats rally with US President Joe Biden in Albuquerque, New Mexico, US, on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.

Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a New Mexico Democrats rally with President Biden in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Nov. 3, 2022. Photo: Adria Malcolm/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's (D) temporary ban on carrying firearms in public has drawn pushback from members of her own party and gun control advocates.

Why it matters: The rift underscores the tension for gun control advocates between proposing stricter laws and the legal roadblocks to actually enacting the legislation.

Driving the news: Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, a Democrat, said Monday that he would not enforce Grisham's 30-day ban on carrying guns in public spaces.

  • Bernalillo includes the city of Albuquerque, where Grisham's temporary ban, introduced in the wake of an uptick in gun-related deaths, suspends resident's right to carry firearms in public for at least 30 days.
  • "This order will not do anything to curb gun violence other than punish law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self defense," Allen said.
  • "I do not want to have political violence towards my deputies or here in Bernalillo County," he said. "I have enough violence here."

Lujan Grisham said enforcement will be carried out by state police instead of local law enforcement.

Zoom in: The order drew blowback from Republicans, but also some Democrats and gun control advocates who questioned its legality.

  • "I support gun safety laws," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) wrote on the social media platform, X. "However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution."
  • "No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution. There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution."
  • David Hogg, a gun control activist and survivor of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, wrote: "I support gun safety but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution."

What she's saying: Lujan Grisham insisted that "conceal and open carry are state laws that I have jurisdiction over," per a post on X.

  • "If you're really interested in helping curb gun violence, I'd welcome you to join our next police academy class," she said in response to Lieu's post.
  • Lujan Grisham predicted legal challenges to the order, but said that "showing a little courage, even when the clarity of that courage will be challenged, is worth the fight."

What to watch: The Supreme Court last year struck down New York's concealed carry gun law.

  • The high court threw scores of other gun laws into jeopardy when it said that only gun laws with historical precedent are constitutionally permissible.
  • The high court's ruling may jeopardize Lujan Grisham's executive order, according to Jake Charles, a law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, who has tracked every federal court case citing Bruen.
  • "Bruen made it real easy to dismiss laws like these as "outliers" that don't count," he wrote on X.

Go deeper: Gun control takes 1 step forward in Congress, 2 steps back at SCOTUS

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