New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, issued an emergency order on Friday suspending the right to carry guns in public in Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County for at least 30 days following a recent ban gun violence had occurred.
The governor said she expects the order will face a legal challenge but believes it needs to be in response to recent gun-related deaths, such as an 11-year-old boy who was shot outside a minor league baseball stadium became week.
“When New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to walk their children to school, to leave a baseball game — when their right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn — then something is very wrong,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
The suspension has been classified as a public health emergency order and applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, with the exception of police officers and licensed security guards. The restriction comes with a violent crime threshold that is only met in the Albuquerque region.
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Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, said the governor’s spokeswoman, Caroline Sweeney. The governor said state police are responsible for enforcing the order, but acknowledged that not all law enforcement officials — including the district attorney for the Albuquerque region — agree with it.
“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” Lujan Grisham said at a news conference.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said in a statement Friday evening that he had concerns about the order but was willing to work together to combat gun violence.
“While I understand and recognize the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the very foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Allen said. “I am cautious about placing my deputies in positions that could give rise to civil liability conflicts and the potential risks of denying law-abiding citizens their constitutional right to self-defense.”
In issuing the order, Lujan Grisham cited several shootings in Albuquerque, including Wednesday’s shooting outside the Albuquerque Isotopes field that left 11-year-old Froyland Villegas dead and a woman critically injured. The two were in a vehicle that was sprayed with bullets as people left the game.
On August 13, five-year-old Galilea Samaniego was shot to death in her sleep when four teenagers in two stolen vehicles entered a trailer park and opened fire on the house. The girl was shot in the head and died of her injuries in a hospital.
Another fatal shooting occurred in Taos County in August when a 14-year-old boy used his father’s gun to shoot and kill his girlfriend, 13-year-old Amber Archuleta, while they were at the boy’s home.
An 11-year-old boy is killed and a woman is injured in a shooting outside the Albuquerque baseball stadium
State Sen. Greg Baca, the Senate’s top Republican, condemned the governor’s gun ban.
“A child is murdered, the perpetrator is still at large, and what does the governor do? She … targets law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun warrant,” Baca said.
Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, praised the governor’s order as necessary to reduce gun violence.
“If it saves one life, it’s worth doing,” Viscoli said.
Since 2019, Lujan Grisham has signed several bills restricting access to guns, including a 2020 “red flag” law that allows law enforcement to ask a court to temporarily remove guns from people they believe that they could harm themselves or others. The governor also signed a ban on gun ownership for those under a permanent protective order for domestic violence.
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The governor’s order Friday also directs state regulators to conduct monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with gun laws.
The state Department of Health will prepare a report on gunshot victims in New Mexico hospitals that will include age, race, gender and ethnicity, as well as the make and caliber of the firearm involved and other general circumstances.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.