When one hears the words “public health order,” a few policies spring to mind.
Temporary funding for health care providers, perhaps. Or maybe even temporary restrictions on travel in the face of a severely infectious disease.
One would certainly not think of a suspension of the Second Amendment. Yet, on Sept. 8, New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health order to do just that.
In the face of bipartisan pushback and a temporary restraining order, less than two weeks after the ban’s enactment, Grisham announced she would be rolling the policy back.
However, parts of the ban remain in place to this day.
For those who haven’t been following news of the New Mexico concealed carry ban too closely, here’s a full recap of what has happened, and how things currently stand today.
It all started with the tragic death of an 11-year-old boy on Sept. 6. The boy, Froylan Villegas, was caught in the middle of a “suspected road rage shooting” on his way home from a minor league baseball game.
“The vehicle just pulled up on the side of them and started shooting,” family friend Angelica Amaro said according to KRQE-TV.
Citing the incident, along with a handful of others, Grisham declared a public health emergency the very next day. Then on Sept. 8, after another day had passed, Grisham signed an executive order suspending all “concealed, open carry” licenses in the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
Grisham spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney told The Associated Press violators of the order were subject to $5,000 fines.
The Governor of New Mexico has just declared the 1st & 2nd Amendment “does not exist” due to an “emergency.”
Under this legal theory *all* of our “rights” are essentially eliminated.
Watch the most evil & tyrannical 60 seconds you’ve ever heard from a politician: pic.twitter.com/xLpMSTbyi2
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 9, 2023
“As I said yesterday, the time for standard measures has passed,” Grisham said. “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 ban on carrying guns on public property included a few minor exceptions for security guards and law enforcement officers.
Citizens were still allowed to keep their weapons on private property but, if and when they were to bring those weapons into public, were in violation of the new order.
The following directives were also listed in the order:
- “The Regulation and Licensing Division to conduct monthly inspections of licensed firearm dealers to ensure compliance with all sales and storage laws.”
- “The Department of Health to compile and issue a comprehensive report on gunshot victims presenting at hospitals in New Mexico, which shall include (if available): demographic data of gunshot victims, including age, gender, race, and ethnicity; data on gunshot victim’s healthcare outcomes; the brand and caliber of the firearm used; the general circumstances leading to the injury; the impact of gunshot victims on New Mexico’s healthcare system; and any other pertinent information.”
- “The State Police to add officers in Albuquerque with funding for overtime provided.”
Pushback From Both Parties
From the start, local New Mexicans voiced their disapproval of the concealed carry ban.
As reported by KOB-TV, on the very same day Grisham announced the order, more than 100 gun rights supporters — some of them armed — showed up in Albuquerque’s Old Town in protest.
In what came as a shock to many conservatives, those on the political right weren’t the only ones to come out in opposition to the ban.
Perhaps the two most surprising examples of this were California Rep. Ted Lieu and anti-gun activist David Hogg. Both men are well-known for their opposition to Second Amendment rights, and yet they both decried Grisham’s order.
I support gun safety but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution. https://t.co/6GfbOZLc7g
— David Hogg 🟧 (@davidhogg111) September 9, 2023
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. There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution. https://t.co/kOhLMtaOl2
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 9, 2023
In a commentary piece, The Western Journal’s Bryan Chai offered two theories for why these Democrats and others chose to push back.
“This writer posits two theories… 1. Democrats have some genuinely terrifying (for them) polling data regarding 2024 and beyond. They see that their far-left policies are forcefully turning the tide against their side, and are trying to mitigate that damage with lip service,” Chai wrote.
“2. Gov. Grisham is splintering off to spearhead an even more far-left wing of the Democrat party, and the old far-left stalwarts are calling her out on it (think of how many modern moderates have been vilified by the left as it kept moving further in that direction. Same idea.)”
Local Law Enforcement Refused to Enforce the Order
In addition to bi-partisan pushback, many local New Mexico law enforcement officials also opposed the order, refusing to enforce it.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Media were among those refusing to enforce the order, according to the Associated Press.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen also came out firmly against it.
Here’s the video of the press conference! Wow 😮 pic.twitter.com/NREe71lpWo
— Rep. John Block (@RepBlock) September 11, 2023
“The temporary ban challenges the foundations of our Constitution, but most importantly, it is unconstitutional,” Allen, a Democrat, said, according to the Washington Examiner.
“My oath was to protect the Constitution, and that is what I will do.”
Calls For Impeachment
Amidst the fallout and pushback, Republican lawmakers in New Mexico, namely state representatives Stefani Lord and John Block, called for the governor’s impeachment on Sept. 9.
This sentiment was supported by Tesla founder and X (formerly known as Twitter) owner Elon Musk.
“At risk of stating what should be obvious, deliberately violating the Constitution is next-level illegal,” Musk wrote on X in response to the “public health order.”
“How soon can this person be removed from office?”
In response to the calls for impeachment, on Tuesday, Democratic Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives Brian Egolf declared he would in “no way” support such a movement, per The Hill.
The Restraining Order
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge David Urias, a Biden appointee, issued a temporary restraining order preventing Grisham’s ban from going into full effect.
According to the Washington Examiner, Urias determined the order went against precedent set by the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen.
“To be honest with you, I think you have kind of a hard road here to get up,” Urias told Holly Agajanian, the attorney for Grisham’s office, according to Politico.
Though lauded by many conservatives across the country, Urias’ ban is merely a temporary one.
The court is set to reevaluate the order on Oct. 3, the same day the current restraining order is set to expire, per Politico.
At that time, a final determination on the order and its constitutionality will be made.
An Amended Open Carry Ban is Still in Place Today
In the face of the restraining order and universal pushback, Grisham announced her decision to scrap parts of the concealed carry ban on Friday.
However, the order was not scrapped completely.
Some temporary gun restrictions still remain in place. Perhaps most notably, firearms are still “banned” from being carried at parks and playgrounds in both Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
“Provisions in the updated public health order issued Friday include… Removing the previous provision around firearms and replacing it with a provision that temporarily suspends the carrying of firearms at parks and playgrounds in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County,” a Friday news release from Grisham’s office reads.
In response, some conservative critics of the order have pointed out that potential mass shooters will obviously ignore the rule.
As a result, the only guns truly kept out of parks and playgrounds by the updated order will be those that could be used by law-abiding citizens to prevent such tragedies.
The New Mexico governor was forced to narrow her “no gun” order to just parks and playgrounds….you know, open areas where children are most vulnerable. 🤦♀️https://t.co/CPJdnJyldR
— Betsy Brantner Smith (@sgtbetsysmith) September 16, 2023
“The New Mexico governor was forced to narrow her ‘no gun’ order to just parks and playgrounds….you know, open areas where children are most vulnerable,” the National Police Association’s Betsy Brantner Smith wrote.
This won’t stop criminals because criminals break the law. It only strips law-abiding citizens of their 2nd Amendment rights. #2ndAmendment
New Mexico Governor Amends Her Order: Concealed Carry Banned Only in City Parks, Playgrounds https://t.co/zeaWiYw8RB
— Scott4Trump (@Scott_4Trump) September 16, 2023
“This won’t stop criminals because criminals break the law,” one X user noted. “It only strips law-abiding citizens of their 2nd Amendment rights.”
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