New Mexico governor declares emergency and bans concealed carry

On Friday, September 8, 2023, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an emergency order banning the carry of firearms in Albuquerque and throughout Bernalillo County for at least 30 days.

According to the New York Times, Grisham said, " ... the ban would be lifted at the end of 30 days, if the gun violence epidemic was over. But she added, 'I bet it’s not over in 30 days' and that the ban was likely to be modified."

Grisham said she was compelled to act because of violent crime in the area, including the killing of an 11-year-old boy near a baseball stadium recently. But when asked if she thinks criminals would stop carrying guns in Albuquerque for 30 days, Grisham said, "No."

The order threatens violators with a fine of up to $5,000. However, according to the Associated Press, Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, along with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina, said they would not enforce the order.

"As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional," said Bregman. "This office will continue to focus on criminals of any age that use guns in the commission of a crime."

Grisham issued the order despite the fact that New Mexico's constitution includes "preemption" of local firearm regulation. Article II, § 6 of the Constitution of New Mexico affirms the right to bear arms for New Mexico residents: "No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms."

When asked where she derives the right to ban lawful carry, Grisham said the law gives her the ability to declare an emergency and invoke additional powers. So, she declared a public health emergency and directed the Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health to issue a public health order banning the open and concealed carry of firearms.

Ohio passed a BFA-backed law to limit emergency powers

What is happening in New Mexico is a nightmare scenario we've seen play out before. From police confiscating legally-owned guns in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to states closing gun stores during the pandemic, government authorities have infringed Second Amendment rights under the guise of emergencies.

That's why Buckeye Firearms Association spearheaded the creation and passage of the most powerful and comprehensive emergency powers legislation of its kind in the United States. Governor DeWine signed the bill on Jan. 3 of this year and the protections went into effect April 4.

The act prevents state and local governments from infringing Second Amendment rights and key hunting, fishing, and trapping activities during declared emergencies.

While we have not seen the sort of audacious infringements in Ohio that gun owners in other states have suffered through, BFA sought to close the "emergency order loophole" and implement protections for state residents while we were able. Who knows what the future holds or which politicians may be in power years from now?

Here are some of the key provisions of Ohio's emergency powers limitation act:

Declares that certain deadly weapons or firearms businesses and services are life sustaining “essential” businesses and services for the purposes of safety and security during an emergency.

Provides that no state agency, political subdivision, elected or appointed official or employee of this state or any political subdivision, or agent of this state or of any political subdivision, board, commission, bureau, or other public body established under law may do any of the following during an emergency:

Prohibit, regulate, or curtail the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, display, sale, transportation, transfer, defensive use, or other lawful use of any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon;

Require the registration of any firearm, ammunition, or deadly weapon;

Seize, commandeer, or confiscate in any manner, any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon that is possessed, carried, displayed, sold, transferred, transported, stored, or used in connection with otherwise lawful conduct;

Suspend or revoke a valid concealed handgun license, except as expressly authorized by law;

Refuse to accept or process an application for a concealed handgun license or for renewal of a concealed handgun license, provided the application for the license or for the renewal has been properly completed and submitted;

Prohibit, suspend, or limit the business operations of any entity engaged in the lawful selling or servicing of any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon;

Prohibit, suspend, or limit the business operations of any indoor or outdoor shooting range or any entity engaged in providing deadly weapon or firearms training;

Place restrictions or quantity limitations on any entity regarding the lawful sale or servicing of any firearm, ammunition, ammunition-reloading equipment, or deadly weapon;

Suspend, restrict, or prohibit otherwise lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping activities or business entities conducting or directly facilitating lawful hunting, trapping, or fishing activities.

Provides that if a concealed handgun license is scheduled to expire during an emergency or 30 days prior to an emergency, the license is automatically extended throughout the duration of the emergency plus an additional 90 days.

Specifies that any person, group, or entity adversely affected by any manner of law enacted or enforced in violation of the bill may file an action for damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or other appropriate redress.

Reaction to Gov. Grisham's emergency order has been swift. Lawsuits have already been filed and lawmakers are calling for her impeachment.

However it remains to be seen whether she pays a price. Such egregious acts of political grandstanding are par for the course in today's culture of lawbreaking among the political class. Doubtless, many of Grisham's supporters will approve of her actions despite knowing they are unconstitutional and will not hold up in court.

Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, former #1 NRA Recruiter, and host of the Keep and Bear Radio podcast.

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