By Tom Ozimek
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday imposed a temporary ban on carrying guns in public in parts of the state after declaring an emergency following the shooting deaths of several children while responding to critics by claiming that the U.S. Constitution isn’t “absolute.”
Ms. Grisham, a Democrat, issued an emergency public health order on Friday, suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County for at least 30 days.
“The time for standard measures has passed,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement, adding that the measure is aimed at “quickly reducing gun violence.”
She said she expects legal challenges to the controversial decision but was moved to impose the ban because of recent shootings, including the recent death of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium.
“Today, I join the family of an 11-year-old boy in mourning his violent death yesterday,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement on Sept. 7, in which she said she was declaring “gun violence a public health emergency in New Mexico.”
Ms. Grisham’s order has a carveout for licensed security guards and police officers, but private citizens with carry permits must transport their firearms in locked boxes and use trigger locks or other mechanisms to render the gun incapable of being fired.
The order also compels state regulators to carry out monthly inspections of licensed firearm dealers to ensure compliance with sales and storage laws, while requiring the Department of Health to issue a report on gunshot victims in New Mexico.
At a press conference Friday, a reporter asked Ms. Grisham what the value of a civil order was given that all the types of conduct that she said she hoped would be reduced thanks to her decision—like children shooting other children—are illegal already.
“Why not just do better enforcement?” the reporter asked.
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Ms. Grisham replied by saying that her order would help law enforcement take more effective action against guns and it “sends a message.”
The reporter then pointed out that Ms. Grisham took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution before asking whether it’s unconstitutional for her to say that citizens can’t exercise their carry license.
She replied by saying that there’s “one exception” to the application of the Constitution, “and that is, if there’s an emergency—and I’ve 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.”
Ms. Grisham’s order—and her comments about the Constitution not being “absolute”—sparked a flurry of reactions on social media, many critical.
New Mexico state Rep. John Block, a Republican, responded to the order by calling for the governor’s impeachment on X: “Impeach and remove Lujan Grisham. We even have Elon behind us on this!”
Elon Musk said in a post on X that “deliberately violating the Constitution is next-level illegal” and asked, “How soon can this person be removed from office?”
Reacting to Mr. Block’s post, New Mexico state Rep. Stefani Lord, a Republican, said she had already asked legal counsel to start impeachment proceedings against Ms. Grisham.
“Stand up against tyranny!” Ms. Lord wrote in a post on X, adding that when she asked the last New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf, a Democrat, about a previous impeachment, she said he replied, “No way, forget about it,” suggesting Ms. Grisham’s impeachment would be a difficult fight.
“But that doesn’t matter,” Ms. Lord said. “This is an uphill battle worth fighting over.”
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen responded to Ms. Grisham’s order by saying he has reservations about enforcing the ban.
“First and foremost, every lost life is a tragedy, and the well-being of our community is of paramount concern to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. We share in the collective grief and urgency to address this issue,” Mr. Allen said in a statement on X.
“However, as the elected Sheriff, I have reservations regarding this order,” he continued. “While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold.”
“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,” Mr. Allen added.
Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Chief Harold Medina issued a statement saying that APD officers would not be enforcing civil violations of Ms. Grisham’s order.
Amy Swearer, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called the move “completely unconstitutional” and also “just logically nuts.”
“Concealed carry permit holders aren’t the ones driving gun crime, and now you’re telling actual criminals that they have free reign because their victims can’t be armed,” Ms. Swearer said in a post on X, while citing state records showing that concealed carry permit holders in New Mexico have a revocation rate of just 0.002 percent and are “statistically one of the most law-abiding and peaceable populations you could imagine.”
The New Mexico Shooting Sports Association also raised objections.
“The NM Bill of Rights guarantees the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, and all other lawful purposes,” the group wrote in a post on X. “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.”
“Damages may be awarded up to two million dollars ($2,000,000) per person whose rights were violated,” the group added.
Ms. Grisham’s press secretary Caroline Sweeney said that violators of the governor’s order could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000.