September 11, 2023

Bernalillo County Sheriff ‘irritated’ by 30-day gun ban, will not enforce it

Screenshot of Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen speaks during a press conference September 11, 2023.

Screenshot of Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen speaks during a press conference September 11, 2023.

Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen announced Monday in a press conference streamed to Facebook that his office would not enforce a public health order banning firearms in Bernalillo County for 30 days.

Allen called the order unconstitutional and said that his decision will also  prevent violence against BCSO deputies.

“(Lujan Grisham) knew we, as law enforcement, did not agree with the order,” Allen said. “My job is to keep the peace and to make sure that the citizens of Bernalillo County are safe and I do not believe that this order will help me do so. I’m a law enforcement professional. This order will not do anything to curb gun violence other than punish law abiding citizens for their constitutional right to self defense.”

Allen also spoke to the work the BCSO and other law enforcement agencies are working to curb gun violence. He shared these with Lujan Grisham in a briefing prior to the order’s announcement.

“It is quite irritating for me to see how this 30-day ban completely overshadowed the robust conversations that we had with the governor in the office on what we’re going to do to curb gun violence and for people to stop being victims. We had arguments, but again we had solutions,” Allen said.

These solutions included Allen setting up a task force as well as asking for a special session be called to address violent crime in New Mexico.

“We need to look at solutions to address violent crimes involving juveniles with firearms, adults with firearms, pretrial release, harsh state penalties for violent crimes, which also involve a firearm,” Allen said. “Collaboration and planning will and continue with the mayor of Albuquerque Tim Keller, Chief of New Mexico State Police Troy Whistler, chief of the Albuquerque Police Department Harold Medina and District Attorney Sam Bregman. I will also be contacting federal entities such as the FBI and the US attorney to assist us and make sure we work as a team to curb gun violence and so many other crimes that we see in Bernalillo County.”

Allen was not the only person to express ire with the order.

The New Mexico Shooting Sports Association announced that it was planning to file a lawsuit in federal court against Lujan Grisham about the order and its constitutionality.

Four national-level Second Amendment organizations have filed suit in federal court including a civil rights class action lawsuit filed by Bernalillo County resident Shawn Blas.

“These individuals, despite whatever public health goals they may have had, violated their formal oaths of office to uphold the constitution and laws of the United States when instituting these unconstitutional restrictions on a law-abiding citizen’s right to bear arms,” the Blas lawsuit stated.

Related:Pro-gun group files suit over guv’s gun carry ban, more coming

The defendants listed were Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen.

Two Republican state representatives are starting the impeachment process against Lujan Grisham.

Reps. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, and John Block, R-Alamogordo, are planning to submit articles of impeachment against the governor on Monday.

“The process essentially is that the House of Representatives has to bring forward the articles of impeachment and then once we have settled upon those articles, then we will have to concur with the Senate,” Block told the NM Political Report via phone call on Monday. “ We’re trying to get them out the door quickly, but we have to do it right.”

Block claims that there was bipartisan support for impeaching Lujan Grisham. 

“Right now the governor has put herself in a corner, because not only are Republicans attacking her for this blatantly unconstitutional order, she has her own party members, including Sheriff Allen, Mayor Keller, Police Chief Medina, (state) Sen. (Peter) Cervantes, all these people, are saying, ‘This is not okay. We’re not going to enforce this’ or ‘it’s unconstitutional and you need to overturn it.’ This is something that I think is absolutely across the board, everyone’s on the same page.” 

Other opposition comes from the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association.

“The New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association understands the struggle Albuquerque and Bernalillo County face regarding violent crime. Many rural New Mexico counties are impacted by big city crime spilling over into our communities,” NMSA Board Chairman San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari told the NM Political Report via email Friday. “The NMSA does not support the governor’s temporary suspension of legal concealed carry and open carry firearms. This will directly impact law abiding citizens.”

Ferrari added that the order violated Article II of the New Mexico state constitution which states that “no law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense.”

“The Albuquerque area still faces a shortage of law enforcement officers and crime is rampant. We fear announcing to criminals that citizens in the public will no longer have the ability to defend themselves will have a catastrophic effect,” Ferrari said. “We support the Governor’s efforts in combating the State of New Mexico’s illicit drug epidemic. We suggest the Governor’s plan include strengthening our border security with Mexico where all fentanyl comes from. We cannot continue to ignore that fact regardless of one’s political views.”

Aside from the firearm public health order, Lujan Grisham also issued an executive order declaring illegal drugs a public health emergency.