Armed protest in New Mexico over governor’s emergency order suspending right to carry firearms in public

The ban will last for 30 days and will apply to Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County

Martha McHardy
Monday 11 September 2023 20:43

Heavily armed protesters gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico to protest the governor’s emergency order

Heavily armed protesters gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico to protest the governor’s emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public.

Crowds gathered at Old Town Plaza after New Mexico’s Democrat governor Michelle Lujan Grisham instituted a temporary ban on carrying firearms in public in certain parts of the state.

The ban will last for 30 days and will apply to Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

The majority of protesters were armed with a variety of firearms, displayed in the open, according to reports. Republican New Mexico House of Representatives member Stefani Lord also attended the protest.

Congresswoman Lord announced on X, previously known as Twitter, on Saturday that she, along with Republican Rep John Block, of Otero County, were calling for the governor’s impeachment and claimed the emergency order “violates the Governor’s oath to protect and defend the rights of New Mexicans.”

At the protest, congresswoman Lord said she had already filed the Article of Impeachment and expects to carry the effort forward.

“It has to go to our legal counsel first and we plan on pursing this all the way. It’s also going to depend on if we get support on the Democrats’ side and we actually might with this,” she said. “Because she has gone too far that every single person agrees that what she did was illegal.”

Meanwhile, another protestor told the Albuquerque Journal the governor’s emergency order was “targeting the wrong people.”

“She’s going after the wrong people,” the protestor said. “I pay my taxes, I’m a God-fearing American and I think we should have our Second Amendment rights. I’m here for that.”

The emergency order is also set to face legal challenges.

Albuquerque resident Foster Allen Haines filed a federal lawsuit against the order on Saturday, in conjunction with the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), claiming it is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, both New Mexico Senate and House Republicans on Saturday vowed to file lawsuits of their own challenging the order.

The Gun Owners of America and the Gun Owners Foundation have also filed a lawsuit.

The Albuquerque Police Department said they will not actively enforce the governor’s order because the responsibility lies with state law enforcement, police chief Harold Medina said.

Video footage filmed at the rally appeared to show police not intervening as heavily armed protesters gathered in the Town Plaza.

Albuquerque Police Department has been contacted for comment.

Bernalillo County sheriff John Allen said he has “reservations” about the order in a public statement, and said the temporary ban “challenges the foundation of our Constitution.”

“I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts,” sheriff Allen said, “as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”

When questioned about her order violating the Constitution on X, formerly known as Twitter, governor Lujan Grisham said conceal and open carry are state laws that she has jurisdiction over.

The 30-day order directs a state agency to conduct monthly inspections on licensed firearm dealers and orders the state health department to assemble a report on gunshot victims at hospitals across the state, among other measures.

The ban prohibits firearms on state property, including parks, state buildings and schools. It makes exceptions for law enforcement officers and licensed security guards. Residents with permits to carry firearms can possess those weapons on private property as long as they are transported in a lock box or have a trigger lock or other mechanism that prevents the weapon from being fired.

“No person, other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer, shall possess a firearm ... either openly or concealed,” the governor’s order states.

The ban follows the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy on his way home from a minor league baseball game last week, as well as the killing of a four-year-old girl in her bedroom last month.

“These are disgusting acts of violence that have no place in our communities,” the governor said in a statement last week. “This administration has done meaningful work to pass legislation, support law enforcement and significantly increase public safety resources to curb violence. But it is clear that we need to do more.”

Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, welcomed the order.

“If it makes it so that people think twice about using a gun to solve a personal dispute, it makes them think twice that they don’t want to go to jail,” Ms Viscoli said, “then it will work.”

Over the last few years, governor Ms Lujan Grisham has signed several pieces of legislation to restrict gun access, including a 2020 “red flag” law allowing law enforcement agencies to ask courts to temporarily remove firearms from people who could be a danger to themselves or others. She also has banned firearm possession for people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence.

Roughly half of US states have advanced permitless concealed carry laws, rapidly adopted by Republican lawmakers across the US as part of what right-wing activists have called a “constitutional carry” movement in recognition of the Second Amendment.

Governor Lujan Grisham also has requested federal support from the US Department of Justice and the White House.

“Too many times I hear, like over and over again, every time that something occurs, somebody wants to bring more federal resources,” she said. “I don’t need more federal agents in Albuquerque. You know what I need? I need more federal prosecutors.”

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