Gun rights groups sue New Mexico governor over executive order

September 11, 2023

Several gun rights organizations have filed suits against New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) over an executive order declaring gun violence a “public health emergency.”

The executive order suspends open and concealed carry laws in cities and counties based on crime statistics. It also prohibits firearms on state property, including state buildings, schools, parks and other places where children gather. Further, licensed firearm dealers will be inspected monthly by New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Division to ensure compliance with sales and storage laws.

Grisham signed the executive order on September 7, posting on social media, “To my fellow citizens: get loud. Step up. Demand change: from your neighbors, from your friends, from your communities, from your elected leaders. Enough is enough.”

The move follows the shooting deaths of three children in New Mexico between July and September, and a pair of mass shootings in the state.

Across the U.S. as of Monday, there have been at least 495 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive which defines the crime as four or more victims killed or wounded.

The Gun Violence Archive further notes that only eight states have not suffered at least one mass shooting so far this year: Alaska, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

On Saturday, the National Association for Gun Rights filed suit against Lujan Grisha and New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen, arguing that the executive order violates the Second Amendment. 

“The State must justify the Carry Prohibition by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. But it is impossible for the State to meet this burden, because there is no such historical tradition of firearms regulation in this Nation,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit cites a June 2022 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down New York state’s 1913 law banning carrying concealed handguns outside the home. The Justices had ruled the New York law violated the right to “keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment.

The plaintiffs in New Mexico, including Albuquerque resident Foster Allen Haines, who is now prohibited from exercising the state’s open carry law, asks the U.S. District Court for New Mexico to grant a temporary injunction prohibiting the emergency order from being enforced.  

A second lawsuit was filed Saturday by the Gun Owners of America and another private New Mexican resident, Randy Donk, against the governor, Allen, Department of Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie; and State Police Chief W. Troy Weisler.

This suit compares the emergency declaration to “martial law” and argues that it suspends Constitutional rights. It asks for a restraining order to be issued immediately and followed by preliminary and permanent injunctions.

Along with gun rights advocates, some supporters of stricter gun laws have also criticized the governor’s order. On his personal rather than Congressional social media page on X, formerly Twitter, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) wrote, “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.”

David Hogg, March For Our Lives founder David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida echoed Lieu’s sentiments in his own social media posting.

PHOTO: Gov Grisham signing gun violence order, Sept 7

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