Federal judge temporarily blocks Gov. Lujan Grisham’s ban on carrying guns in public

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ALBUQUERQUE — U.S. District Court Judge David Herrera Urias has granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday against New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recent order banning both open and concealed firearms in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

The ruling cited the orders’ direct conflict with the Second Amendment and will halt implementation of the orders pending a final hearing, which is scheduled for Oct. 3.

The restraining order only applies to Section 1 and Section 4 of the public health order.

Section 1 outlines the temporary suspension of open and concealed carry laws, and Section 4 states that “No person, other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer, shall possess a firearm on state property, public schools, and public parks.” Both sections cannot be enforced.

The judge heard arguments from five different lawsuits, all arguing those restrictions violated Second Amendment rights. Attorneys specifically referenced several U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including one from last year, that said the right to own a gun for self defense exists in and out of the home.

Attorneys argued the governor does not have the ability to suspend those rights – even in an emergency.

The judge and every attorney at the hearing Wednesday agreed that gun violence is a serious issue in Albuquerque, and several of them commended the governor for taking action.

However, the judge said it is in the public’s best interest to not suspend civil rights, which includes the right to carry a gun.

The governor’s attorney tried to argue since the public health order is not a law and only temporary, it doesn’t have the same impact on the rights of New Mexicans. However, the judge did not agree.

All other sections of the public health order will remain in effect. In a statement, the governor said she still plans on assigning more New Mexico State Police officers to Bernalillo County, and she is directing the health care system to immediately increase capacity to accept people experiencing homelessness and drug addiction.

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s administration is also expected to update the order with additional measures soon.

Senate Republican Leader, Sen. Greg Baca issued the following statement regarding the ruling: 

“We applaud the judge’s ruling against the governor and her unconstitutional order. The governor’s malfeasance and utter disregard for the Constitution is alarming. By her own admission, she believes there are virtually no limits to the exercise of executive power. The Constitution says otherwise, and today, the court took action to remedy her blatant abuse of power against the citizens of New Mexico.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham issued this statement after the decision:

“Today a judge temporarily blocked sections of our public health order but recognized the significant problem of gun violence in this state, particularly involving the deaths of children. 

I refuse to be resigned to the status quo. As governor, I see the pain of families who lost their loved ones to gun violence every single day, and I will never stop fighting to prevent other families from enduring these tragedies. 

To be clear: gun violence and drug abuse are acute threats to public health and safety in this state. We will stay the course by increasing State Police presence in Bernalillo County, arresting the hundreds of violent offenders with outstanding warrants still on our streets, and directing our healthcare system to immediately expand capacity to accept persons experiencing drug addiction and homelessness. 

Over the past four days, I’ve seen more attention on resolving the crisis of gun violence than I have in the past four years. Now is the time to bring clarity of purpose: New Mexicans must again feel safe walking home from school, driving to the grocery store, or leaving their hometown baseball stadium. 

Who will stand up to protect families and children? I will.  

And I call on leaders across the state, from local law enforcement to the Legislature to mayors and county commissioners: Stand with me to enact solutions that save people’s lives. Throwing up our hands is not an option.” 

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez shared the following statement:

“Judge Urias’ decision to block implementation of the Governor’s unconstitutional Emergency Order is not at all surprising and the Attorney General hopes that today’s ruling will prompt the Governor to abandon her unilateral and divisive approach to complex problems and engage in a more deliberative process that will yield tangible results for the people of New Mexico.

The Attorney General is committed to the legislative process and to working with Governor Lujan Grisham to build a safer community without sacrificing the constitutional rights of our citizens. We need more and better trained police officers; stricter gun laws and tougher guidelines for pretrial detention; robust mental health and drug treatment; rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism; real-time data on gun crimes and gun trafficking; and a protective service framework that keeps today’s child victims from maturing into the next generation’s repeat offenders. Our collective efforts should be engaged in robust and meaningful dialogue around each of these issues, building consensus that challenges and harnessing our once-in-a-generation budget surplus to bring about transformative change.”

The public health order is available below.