Gun rights group sues New Mexico governor over emergency firearm ban

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A pro-gun group is suing the New Mexico governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, in an effort to block a 30-day emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public in Albuquerque’s Bernalillo county issued last week after a spate of shootings.

The governor announced open and concealed carry restrictions on Friday in a public health order relating to gun violence after the fatal shootings of an 11-year-old boy on his way home from a minor league baseball game last week, as well as the fatal shooting of a four-year-old girl in her bed in a motor home and a 13-year-old girl in Taos county in August.

Lujan Grisham said she expected someone to legally challenge her executive order, adding that she welcomed “the debate and the fight about making New Mexicans safer”.

That challenge arrived on Saturday when the National Association for Gun Rights said it would file a lawsuit in federal court against the governor, citing 2021’s Bruen US supreme court ruling easing gun restrictions.

The president of the pro-gun group, Dudley Brown, accused the governor of “throwing up a middle finger to the constitution and the supreme court”.

“Her executive order is in blatant disregard for Bruen. She needs to be held accountable for stripping the God-given rights of millions away with the stroke of a pen,” Brown said in a statement.

Lujan Graham said she issued the order to open up more resources to help New Mexico get the gun violence issue under control and called on the federal government for help.

“These are disgusting acts of violence that have no place in our communities,” Lujan Grisham said on Thursday, adding that Bernalillo county needed a “cooling off period” during an epidemic of gun violence.

After announcing the order, she said the state needed “to use the power of a public health [order] in a state of emergency to access different levels, different resources and different opportunities to keep New Mexicans safe”.

The order calls for monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with gun laws and for the state health department to compile a report on gunshot victims at hospitals that includes age, race, gender and ethnicity, along with the brand and caliber of firearm involved, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Lujan Grisham has acknowledged that a violation of a public health order is the lowest level of violation. “The point is this – we better have the debate about what’s necessary to reduce the number of particularly illegal firearms and our ability to go after bad actors,” she said.

The National Association for Gun Rights said the June 2022 Bruen ruling “held that any gun regulation that does not fall into the text, history, and tradition of the second amendment is unconstitutional”, the NM Political Report wrote. The US constitution’s second amendment guarantees Americans the right to bear arms.

New Mexico’s Republican state senate minority leader, Greg Baca, described Lujan Grisham’s order as “egregiously unconstitutional” and said he was preparing a legal challenge.

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