Governor Grisham's 30-Day Gun Ban: A Controversial Move Sparks Debate from Both Parties
Updated: Sep 9
By: ABQRAW staff
Posted: 9/8/2023 @ 8:45AM
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Bernalillo County, Albuquerque -
In a controversial move, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico has issued an emergency health order temporarily suspending open and concealed carry laws in Albuquerque and throughout Bernalillo County for the next 30 days. This decision comes in response to the alarming surge in gun violence, including the recent tragic death of an 11-year-old boy. While the governor's intentions are rooted in public safety, the suspension has ignited a heated debate among local officials and law enforcement agencies.
City Councilor Dan Lewis Voices Opposition:
City Councilor Dan Lewis stands as one of the most vocal opponents of Governor Grisham's temporary gun ban. Lewis argues that the suspension infringes on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, asserting that the Supreme Court has recognized the right to bear arms. He emphasizes that citizens who carry concealed firearms have undergone extensive background checks and training, and they should not be penalized for their commitment to self-defense.
Lewis further criticizes the governor for her handling of crime and drugs in New Mexico, alleging that her policies have perpetuated a cycle of catch and release, making the state a magnet for criminal activity. In his statement, Lewis implores law enforcement to prioritize upholding the constitution and not blindly following what he characterizes as unconstitutional edicts from the governor.
Sheriff John Allen's Cautious Response:
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, while empathetic to the urgency of addressing gun violence, expresses reservations regarding the governor's order. As an elected official tasked with upholding the Constitution, Sheriff Allen is concerned about the potential civil liability conflicts that could arise from enforcing the temporary ban. He also raises the important issue of balancing public safety with the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Sheriff Allen outlines a series of proactive initiatives undertaken by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office to address gun violence, including Extreme Risk Protection Orders, targeted interventions for those struggling with mental health issues, and programs aimed at curbing youth involvement in gun-related crimes. He emphasizes the importance of collaborative efforts between various law enforcement agencies and the community in finding long-term solutions to the pervasive issue of gun violence.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina Response:
The governor issued a 30-day state order that limits gun possession in Bernalillo County, including the City of Albuquerque. The governor made it clear that state law enforcement, and not APD, will be responsible for enforcement of civil violations of the order.
Our officers at APD will continue to focus on the enforcement of criminal laws and arresting the criminals who are driving violent crime in the city. We have arrested over 200 murder suspects in the last two years and field officers are making dozens of felony arrests every day. Everyone is stepping up to keep Albuquerque residents safe from the influx of guns and illegal drugs. We know all too well what it means that an 11-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl were tragically killed by indiscriminate gun violence. We share in the pain when our detectives, officers, victim advocates and chaplains respond to these tragedies and hold the hands of family members who are devastated by the loss of precious lives. Nobody feels the pressure more than detectives who are expected to bring justice to those families. Time and time again, they rise to the challenge, and usually because the community stands by APD during these investigations.
I appreciate any support we can get to save lives and end gun violence in Albuquerque. Let’s all work together to keep Albuquerque safe.
We also reached out to Bernalillo County's 2nd Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman who had the most to the point statement:
DA Sam Bregman said simply,
As an officer of the court, I cannot enforce something that I do not believe is constitutional.
ABQ Mayor Tim Keller said:
"We welcome meaningful solutions and additional resources to fight crime in Albuquerque. APD is not responsible for enforcing the governor's ban, our officers will continue to enforce all criminal laws, combat gun violence, and push for needed justice in our city."
Shaun Willoughby, President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association said:
“There is no doubt that we are dealing with an out-of-control crime crisis in the city of Albuquerque, but this order does nothing to curb or address crime. There are countless ways the Governor could address this crisis that would be impactful and meaningful. This is nothing more than a pathetic public relations stunt.” The APOA feels strongly that this is a violation of the 2nd amendment rights of our citizens and is a direct request for all officers in the state of New Mexico to violate their oath of office, exposing officers, police agencies and our communities to civil litigation. The Governor lacks the authority to violate both the New Mexico Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, and we sincerely hope her action will be met with a legal challenge. Willoughby went on to say, “this desperate attempt harkens back to Governor Lujan-Grisham’s unconstitutional overreach during the COVID pandemic, and it should be extremely concerning to any citizen in this community. There is no doubt we need help in the City of Albuquerque, but why not hold criminals accountable, or use emergency order powers to halt the Department of Justice Decent Decree, so officers can do their jobs.” The APOA encourages its officers to continue to uphold their oath of office and stand firm against all crime.
Governor Grisham's 30-day gun ban has ignited a passionate debate among local officials, law enforcement agencies, and the community at large. While the governor's decision is motivated by an apparent sincere concern for public safety, it has raised valid concerns about constitutional rights and the potential unintended consequences of such a suspension.
As the 30-day civil-only gun ban mandate takes effect, a cloud of uncertainty looms over the question of who will be responsible for its enforcement. This contentious decision by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has left many wondering how precisely this temporary suspension of open and concealed carry laws will be put into practice. Will it primarily fall on local law enforcement agencies, or will there be a coordinated effort with state and federal authorities? The lack of clear guidelines on enforcement leaves room for interpretation and potential complications. This ambiguity highlights the need for a transparent and well-defined plan to ensure that the mandate is carried out without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens or placing undue burden on the agencies tasked with implementation. Clarity in enforcement procedures is crucial to strike a balance between public safety and safeguarding individual constitutional rights.
In this time of heightened emotions and divergent opinions, it is crucial for all stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue and seek common ground. By working together, we can find sustainable solutions to the pressing issue of gun violence, ensuring the safety and well-being of all residents in Bernalillo County.