New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared gun violence and drug abuse a public health emergency after a string of recent deadly shootings, some involving children.
The emergency order includes the suspension of open and concealed carry laws in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, temporarily banning the carrying of guns on public property with certain exceptions, according to a statement from Lujan Grisham on Friday.
Lujan Grisham cited the shooting deaths of three children from July through September, as well as a pair of mass shootings in the state.
“The time for standard measures has passed,” said Lujan Grisham, a Democrat. “And when New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game – when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn – something is very wrong.”
Under the plan, citizens with carry permits will still be allowed to possess their weapons on private property such as gun ranges and gun stores if the firearm is transported in a locked box or a trigger lock or other mechanism is used to render the gun incapable of being fired, according to the statement.
The order was issued after consultation with public safety officials, including Bernalillo District Attorney Sam Bregman, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, and former State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.
The order also prohibits firearms on state property, including state buildings and schools, as well as parks and other places where children gather.
Under the order, licensed firearm dealers will be inspected monthly by New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Division to ensure compliance with sales and storage laws. Additionally, state health and environmental officials will begin wastewater testing for illegal substances such as fentanyl at schools.
The order is immediately effective, according to the statement.
In May, two mass shootings in New Mexico left six people dead and 11 wounded. The state has one of the highest rates of gun violence and suicide in the nation.
Law enforcement in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are pushing back against the order – even as they agree gun violence has gotten extreme.
“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said in a statement.
Allen said he is concerned with placing his deputies “in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”
Albuquerque’s police chief also expressed a desire not to get involved with the order. “The governor made it clear that state law enforcement, and not APD, will be responsible for enforcement of civil violations of the order,” Chief Harold Medina said in a statement.
The order has infuriated Republicans, with state Reps. Stefani Lord and John Block calling for Lujan Grisham’s impeachment. “Rather than address crime at its core, (Gov.) Grisham is restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Lord said in a statement Saturday.
Even some national Democrats expressed concern at the scope of the order. “I support gun safety laws. However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution,” Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution.”