September 15, 2023

Guv takes blocked gun ban out of public health order, will not call special session

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham flanked by legislative Democratic leaders and public safety experts delivers an update to a public health order concerning firearms.

Nicole Maxwell/New Mexico Political Report

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham flanked by legislative Democratic leaders and public safety experts delivers an update to a public health order concerning firearms.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham discussed amendments to a controversial public health order that had sought to temporarily prohibit carrying of firearms in public locations in Bernalillo County during a press conference on Friday. She said that she would not call a special session to address gun violence as some have called for.

The most consequential amendment removed the temporary ban on carrying firearms. The change came after Federal District Court Judge David H. Urias issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday halting the firearm ban. 

The governor also amended the order to include the Roundhouse, public parks and playgrounds as areas that are gun-free zones.

The federal court hearing involved five cases against Lujan Grisham and other state officials, and argued the firearm ban was unconstitutional.

Between the lawsuits, public outcry and some of Lujan Grisham’s fellow Democrats refusing to enforce the order or refusing to represent the governor in the heap of lawsuits about it, Lujan Grisham decided to amend the order.

Besides the restraining order against the 30 day ban, the discussion in Wednesday’s hearing included a consensus that gun violence was a problem in New Mexico.

“Where we know we’ve got high risk kids and families and for those of you who came to the press conference when we declared the emergency you heard the senior advisors; personal description of what took place in terms of gun violence,” Lujan Grisham said at Friday’s press conference.

However, Lujan Grisham said she would not call a special session citing work already being done to curb gun violence.

“A special session, any session, is warranted when we need an immediate answer… that’s going to change the status quo,” Lujan Grisham said. “What you heard from folks here is changing the status quo is the urgency of bringing the groups together that are responsible for doing the work right now. I am not going to call these special sessions. But I believe that the legislative leadership that’s facing us today is an indication that they agree with that. And we can do work right now every day.”

This work includes the City of Albuquerque’s Metro Crime Initiative which was set up in 2021. 

“Many MCI proposals have not been passed in their entirety, and instead, proposed legislation has been watered down to the point of being ineffective. Funding for vital programs, personnel, and resources has been slashed dramatically from the amounts needed to effect change,” a press release about the initiative stated.

Lujan Grisham mentioned the attacks she, legislators and others have endured since the initial public health order was issued on Sept. 8.

“In the debate about the public health order I am seeing attacks on the legislature, certainly on the executive branch and on governments all across the country,” Lujan Grisham said.

During the 2023 legislative session, three quarters of a million dollars were invested in public safety with $26 million going to public safety infrastructure alone.

“It’s more than double, I believe, than the last eight years, the former administration is not a competition. It’s just a highlight of how much we are investing in turning a corner in a meaningful way,” Lujan Grisham said.