Cheryl mentioned this earlier, but there was obviously no chance that Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order banning the carrying of firearms in Albuquerque was going to stand up in court, and the inevitable has happened:
A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a ban on carrying guns in New Mexico’s largest city after the order by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham threw the state into the center of the U.S. gun-rights debate.
U.S. District Court Judge David Urias said the governor’s 30-day suspension of concealed and open firearm carry rights in Albuquerque and its surrounding county went against a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that people had a right to carry a gun outside their homes for self defense.
Urias is a Biden appointee, in case you’re wondering.
I agree with Mark Joseph Stern that while firearm violence certainly is a major problem and Lujan Grishom is right on the policy merits, but the executive order will neither reduce firearm violence, and it isn’t good politics either:
Last week, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency over gun violence in her state and imposed a 30-day ban on public carry in Albuquerque. Lujan Grisham’s diagnosis of the problem is surely correct; her proposed solution, however, is astoundingly misguided. The governor has leveraged an emergency health law to suspend a right protected by state statute, the state constitution, and Supreme Court precedent. Whether that right should exist is beside the point; it does exist in New Mexico today, pursuant not only to court decisions but also democratically enacted laws. By suspending it unilaterally, Lujan Grisham has claimed an alarming new power to revoke well-established individual rights by executive order. And she has done so in the most blundering way possible, ensuring a backlash that will only empower citizens, activists, and politicians who view all firearm restrictions as an existential threat to personal liberty.
Gun violence is, of course, a genuine public health crisis—one felt acutely in New Mexico, which has the third-highest firearm mortality rate of any state. Lujan Grisham took matters into her own hands following the recent killings of two children, and her desire for immediate action is surely well-intentioned. But her tactics are obviously illegal. New Mexico’s emergency health response law is broadly written, though plainly aimed at infectious diseases (as signified by a provision about “disease-reporting requirements”). It is questionable whether such a statute could allow the governor to transfer authority over firearm regulations from the Legislature to the department of health.
Albuquerque’s sky-high homicide rate should absolutely move legislators to use every tool available in the fight against gun violence. States with weaker gun laws have more homicides, suicides, and mass shootings, while blue states with tougher restrictions have much lower death rates; New Mexico’s Democratic-controlled Legislature can look to these states for guidance on firearm regulations that do not violate anybody’s constitutional rights. To secure enduring legitimacy, these laws should be enacted by representatives of the people through the democratic process, not a lone governor who has grown impatient with the pace of reform. The nation’s gun violence problem is a tragedy, but it is also, fundamentally, a policy failure. A blatantly unconstitutional power grab will do nothing to stop it.
There are times where resistance to judicial opinions can be justified, but there needs to be some kind of coherent strategic and political rationale for how such actions can advance the desired policy goals that seems entirely absent here.