The debate over gun rights in New Mexico continues to rage after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared gun violence a public health issue and banned the carrying of firearms in Albuquerque for 30 days. The move angered proponents of gun rights, who argued that the order violates the Second Amendment while leaving law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to violent criminals. Some state lawmakers called for Lujan Grisham’s impeachment.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen on Monday told reporters that he would not enforce the governor’s order, arguing that it is unconstitutional and ineffective. But now, the governor has responded to the sheriff’s comments, defending the order and castigating him for not supporting it.
During Monday’s press conference, Allen explained why he would not be enforcing the order:
While addressing reporters, Sheriff Allen argued that Lujan Grisham’s “temporary ban challenges the foundations of our Constitution.”
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 from their constitutional right to self-defense.
Gov. Lujan Grisham issued a harsh statement sent to KOAT, taking the sheriff to task for his comments:
I don’t need a lecture on constitutionality from Sheriff Allen: what I need is action. What we need is for leaders to stand up for the victims of violent crime. We need law enforcement, district attorneys, public officials, school leaders and state agencies to use every single tool at their disposal to stop this violence. Period.
This is an administration that has treated the gun violence epidemic as the crisis that it is. We’ve passed common-sense gun legislation, including red flag laws, domestic violence protections, a ban on straw purchases, and safe storage laws; dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to a fund specifically to help law enforcement hire and retain officers; increased penalties for violent offenders and provided massive support to intervention programs.
We’ve given you the tools, Sheriff Allen— now stop being squeamish about using them. I will not back down from doing what’s right and I will always put the safety of the people of New Mexico first.”
On Saturday, about 150 individuals gathered in Old Town Albuquerque to defy the “emergency” order and protest against what many view as an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. Despite the lack of police presence at the rally, the governor’s office indicated that the order would still be enforced by state law enforcement and indicated that they would be issuing citations to those in attendance.
Even without that physical presence, the governor’s office intends to act.
“The order is being enforced, and citations will be forthcoming from the State Police,” said Caroline Sweeny, a spokesperson for Lujan Grisham’s office. ”To ensure officer safety, we will not be providing additional details at this time.”
The order does not grant police the authority to detain or arrest those who violate the order, but it can impose civil penalties. The order is currently facing a myriad of lawsuits filed by gun rights advocacy groups and it is expected that it will be reversed in court.