New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham claims that she ordered a 30-day ban on carrying guns in Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County because a recent rash of shootings there amount to a public health emergency.
But the weekend move is “patently unconstitutional” and probably won’t stand up to legal challenges, University of Wyoming law professor George Mocsary told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
“She’s displaying contempt for the rule of law,” said Mocsary, who heads UW’s Firearms Research Center.
U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming, went farther than that, telling Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the New Mexico governor is nothing but a “dictator.”
Lujan Grisham issued the order Friday and gun owners quickly organized a rally against it in Albuquerque the next day, some of them open carrying firearms in direct defiance of the order. Police didn’t intervene, according to local reports.
Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina publicly stated that he won’t enforce the ban. Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Sheriff John Allen stated that he’s “uneasy” about it.
Lujan Grisham said she expects New Mexico state troopers to enforce the order.
Meanwhile, Gun Owners of America filed a lawsuit in New Mexico against the ban, spokesman Mark Jones of Buffalo told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
In a Friday news conference, Lujan Grisham outlined her reasoning for declaring guns in Albuquerque a public health emergency and her 30-day ban.
“Effective immediately, no person other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer shall possess a firearm, either openly or concealed withing cities or counties averaging 1,000 or more violent crimes per 100,000 and more than 90 firearms-related emergency department visits,” she said.
That means although it’s a statewide order, only Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are the only places that meet that threshold for the ban.
Even Liberal California Rep. Says It’s Wrong
While conservative criticism of Lujan Grisham’s move is predictable, the ban also is drawing fire from one of the most liberal members of her own Democratic Party.
Congressman Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, stated in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that Lujan Grisham has violated the U.S. Constitution.
“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,” Lieu says in the post.
“There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution,” he added.
In the comments below his post, Lieu received some pushback, but stood by his opinion.
In the comments, he referenced a 2022 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the right of citizens to carry firearms in public.
“The U.S. Supreme Court issued the below ruling last year. Whether or not we agree with the decision, it is the law of the land. A governor cannot suspend the U.S. Constitution for any reason,” Lieu sated in his comment.
His stance on Lujan Grisham’s order is significant, because Lieu has typically supported gun control. At one point, he publicly stated that the National Rifle Association should “please give me an ‘F’ rating” in its assessment of his support for gun rights.
Ban Won’t Stop Murders, Law Prof Says
Lujan Grisham publicly stated that she expects legal challenges to her emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms for 30 days, but she considered it a matter of protecting public health.
Albuquerque has suffered a spate of fatal shootings. Most recently, an 11-year-old boy was shot and killed outside a minor league baseball stadium last week.
However, the 30-day ban on law-abiding people carrying guns won’t make anybody safer, Mocsary said.
“None of those shootings had anything to do with people carrying lawfully,” he said. “Concealed-carry permit holders just as law-abiding as police officers are. The people she’s preventing from carrying have nothing to do with those shootings.
“It (the order) is blatantly unconstitutional and I think she knows it. It’s just a publicity stunt.”
Even so, the move made by the New Mexico governor could catch on in other states, Jones said.
“I think this should serve as a warning to all Americans. We’re hearing some rumblings from Arizona about similar measures,” he said.
Hageman: New Mexico Gov. A ‘Dictator’
Hageman on Monday slammed Lujan Grisham’s executive order, calling the New Mexico governor a “dictator” and unfit to lead.
“I guess she feels that as a dictator she has the right to take away our federal Constitutional right of our freedom to keep and bear arms,” Hageman said during an interview with Cowboy State Daily Politics Reporter Leo Wolfson.
Lujan Grisom has stated that she knows criminals won’t abide by her order anyway, Hageman said, which means it’s probably a “messaging action.”
Moreover, it might serve as a “test case” by which some elected officials could gauge how far that they can push the authority of pubic health orders, Hageman said.
Even so, Hageman doesn’t expect the effort to succeed.
I think she’s going to get slapped hard for this, and I think she should,” Hageman said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.