(Headline USA) New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an unconstitutional emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days.
The Democratic governor said she expects legal challenges.
Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina said he won’t enforce it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he’s uneasy about it because it raises too many questions about constitutional rights.
The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks. The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by the metropolitan Albuquerque.
Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.
Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, gubernatorial spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said. Under the order, residents still can transport guns to some private locations, such as a gun range or gun store, provided the firearm has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.
Sheriff John Allen said he was uneasy about violating the Second Amendment.
“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Allen said. “I am wary of placing my 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.”
Enforcing the governor’s order also could put Albuquerque police in a difficult position with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a police reform settlement, said police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos.
“All of those are unsettled questions,” he said late Friday.
The top-ranked Republican in the state Senate swiftly denounced the governor’s actions Friday to restrict guns as a way to stem violent crime.
“A child is murdered, the perpetrator is still on the loose, and what does the governor do? She … targets law-abiding citizens with an unconstitutional gun order,” Sen. Greg Baca of Belen said.
Friday’s order also directs state regulators to harass gun shops by conducting monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide to ensure compliance with gun laws.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press