Cibola County, New Mexico was one of the first Second Amendment sanctuaries in the state, and Sheriff Tony Mace has been a frequent guest on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co thanks to his support for the Second Amendment. In fact, the last time he was on the show he spoke about a couple of gun stores in the county that had remained open, despite being declared non-essential businesses by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Now the mayor of the largest town in Cibola County is declaring his community an economic sanctuary, allowing all businesses to re-open in defiance of Grisham’s emergency order.
Mayor Martin Hicks says businesses in Grants, New Mexico can operate safely by adhering to CDC social distancing guidelines, and it’s time to re-open the economy.
He said the city’s police department won’t be enforcing the governor’s orders. Neither will the Cibola County Sheriff’s Office. Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace – like Hicks – is a frequent critic of the governor.
Hicks asserted that Lujan Grisham’s orders “are killing my town. We are ready to roll up the sidewalks.” He said more than 80 businesses in town have been closed.
Hicks also said he doesn’t fear action from the Governor’s Office.
“What’s she going to try to do to me?” he asked. “If she tries to do something, I’ll sue her, and we’ll let the courts sort it out.”
As the Albuquerque Journal reported, Cibola County only has 39 reported cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, far below the numbers reported in neighboring counties. Grisham says she’s concerned that if Grants re-opens, it would be like “opening up a peeing section in a pool,” and she says her order will be enforced.
State Police planned to enforce the public health emergency order, Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said in a statement, “to ensure that New Mexicans are not conducting themselves in ways that endanger their health or the health of their community, and they will continue to do that work statewide.”
Some local business owners say they’ll remain closed this week because they’re afraid that the governor’s enforcement could result in thousands of dollars in fines, though they believe that they can safely re-open.
“We think we know how to prevent a health emergency without the governor holding our hands,” Ronnie Pynes said. “We don’t want the coronavirus. We’re putting tape on our floors for social distancing. We’re putting up sneeze guards.”
He also joined Rowe in collecting the signatures of 81 business owners requesting the mayor and city council approve a resolution allowing local businesses that wished to do so be allowed to resume operations as of Monday. But Ronnie Pynes had hoped the governor would also sign off on the plan.
He voiced concerns about the governor’s plan to extend her emergency order to May 15.
“Three weeks is an eternity for a business owner,” Pynes said, adding that petition signers were willing and hopeful about reopening.
“We wanted to send a message that we’re hurting,” Pynes said.
Nearly 20 mayors from across the state sent a letter to Grisham last week pleading with her to allow non-essential businesses to re-open, and the mayor of Farmington, New Mexico has declared an “economic emergency” in his community. Other counties are following suit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more counties and towns in the rural parts of the state follow Grants lead in the days to come.
Just like the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement that swept across New Mexico in 2018 in response to Grisham’s push for gun control, the recent moves by localities to re-open their economies in violation of a statewide order reveals a stark divide between the population centers of Albuquerque and Santa Fe and the rural red counties that make up most of the geographic area of the state. I doubt Grisham is going to back down, and it sounds like Mayor Hicks is ready for a court fight. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, but in the meantime, if you want to play a round of golf or purchase a gun in Grants, the municipal golf course and at least one gun store/pawn shop is re-open for business.