New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has issued a 30-day ban on carrying firearms in public areas or state property in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. The ban was enacted as a response to the recent surge in gun violence in the region, particularly the alarming number of fatal shootings involving children. However, critics argue that the ban is unconstitutional and infringes upon citizens' rights.
The emergency order, declared as a public health emergency, grants the state access to additional resources. It prohibits the open and concealed carry of firearms on state property, public schools, and public parks, with exceptions being made only for law enforcement and licensed security guards. Residents with gun permits are still allowed to possess firearms on private property. If traveling with a firearm, it must be transported in a way that renders it inoperable, such as within a locked box or with a trigger lock.
Those who violate the ban can face fines of up to $5,000. Governor Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, expressed her expectation that the order will be challenged in court and acknowledged that it may not remain in effect. She welcomed the debate surrounding gun control and emphasized the importance of prioritizing public safety.
The New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, the state association of the National Rifle Association (NRA), is currently in the process of filing a lawsuit against the ban. Anthony Segura, a spokesman for the organization, argued that Governor Lujan Grisham does not have the authority to override federal and state constitutions.
In response to the ban, two Republican state representatives, Stefani Lord and John Block, have called for Governor Lujan Grisham's impeachment, accusing her of violating her oath to New Mexico and the nation. However, the governor remains confident in her decision, stating that she has emergency powers and that gun violence is an ongoing crisis.
While the executive order is statewide, it only affects cities and counties that exceed certain levels of violent crime and gun-related emergency room visits. Currently, this criteria applies solely to Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina expressed his support for fighting the gun violence epidemic but stated his reservations about enforcing the ban, citing concerns about potential civil liability for his deputies. Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen echoed these concerns and emphasized the ban's challenge to the constitution, even as he acknowledged the importance of addressing the county's gun violence issue.
Alongside the ban, Governor Lujan Grisham's order mandates monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with sale and storage laws. The state's Department of Health is also directed to collect demographic information about gunshot victims, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, as well as details about the firearms involved and the circumstances leading to the injuries.
Patrick Carter, co-director for the University of Michigan's Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, acknowledged that reducing the number of guns can lead to reduced violence in an area. However, he emphasized the need for comprehensive approaches that combine policy with other interventions to effectively prevent firearm injuries.
Robert Leider, an assistant professor of law at George Mason University, expressed skepticism about the ban's potential to withstand legal challenges. He noted that bans like this are typically issued during acute states of emergency or public disorder and questioned whether it could be justified for general criminal wrongdoing.
Governor Lujan Grisham stated that the ban would be lifted at the end of the 30-day period if the gun violence epidemic subsides. However, she expressed doubt that this would be the case and mentioned the possibility of modifying the ban. Her goal is to make Albuquerque the safest place in America, but she acknowledged the significant challenges in achieving this objective.
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