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New Mexico Stumbles Toward Gun Control

In what can only be described as a botched and ill-advised attempt at firearm regulation by fiat, New Mexico Governor Grisham has once again shown her disdain for the Constitution and private gun ownership in “The Land of Enchantment.”

New Mexico Stumbles Toward Gun Control

(Illustration by A. F. Branco)

On September 8, 2023, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health order, effectively placing a 30-day moratorium on the Second Amendment rights of her constituents. The order, which was quickly shot down by a federal judge, sought to suspend open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County, which is home to the state’s largest city, Albuquerque.

According to the Governor’s press release, “Citizens with permits to carry firearms are free to possess their weapons on private property (such as at a gun range or gun store), provided they transport the firearm in a locked box, use a trigger lock, or some other mechanism that renders the gun incapable of being fired.” Under the order, state police could have assessed civil penalties for violations, with fines up to $5,000.

gaad-nm-exec-order-02
(Illustration by A. F. Branco)

“As I said yesterday, the time for standard measures has passed,” said Governor Grisham. “And when New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game – when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn – something is very wrong.”

The Governor was correct, something was very wrong. When an executive branch official seeks to unilaterally restrict individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the New Mexico Constitution, and subvert the laws created by the state’s legislature, the situation has become dire. A U.S. District Judge agreed, granting a temporary restraining order blocking the Governor’s effort. After the judge’s decision, the Governor narrowed the scope of the order to banning firearms in public parks and playgrounds. The same judge allowed that stripped-down order to remain in place, setting the stage for future litigation.

This isn’t Governor Grisham’s first stab at the Second Amendment rights of New Mexicans. In 2023, she proposed a package of bills that were narrowly defeated in the state legislature. These bills would have limited magazine capacity to 9 rounds, banned and required registration of “assault weapons,” outlawed suppressor ownership, and created a 14-day waiting period for firearm transfers, among other measures.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she co-sponsored H.R. 4269 in 2015, a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” That bill’s caption read “to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited … .” Clearly, this governor believes that the Second Amendment is a second-class right, one that can be restricted at the whims of a single official. Perhaps she should re-read the oath of office that she swore.

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