The Albuquerque police chief says he won’t enforce it. The Bernalillo County sheriff says the same thing. Even the District Attorney in Albuquerque says he won’t enforce Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order suspending open and concealed carry in the city for 30 days, calling it “clearly unconstitutional“. With gun owners rallying in Old Town Albuquerque over the weekend, many of them openly carrying firearms in defiance of Grisham’s order, gun control activists divided over her announcement, and the governor herself unclear about what enforcement might look like, I can’t help but wonder if she has an actual end game in mind or if she’s just making it up as she goes along.
Armed American Radio’s Mark Walters joins me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to kick around Grisham’s order suspending the right to carry in Albuquerque for the next 30 days, and we’re both in agreement that gun owners in Albuquerque should be disregarding the governor’s edict. I won’t even call continuing to carry an act of civil disobedience, because Grisham has no lawful authority to suspend the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms simply by declaring a public safety emergency. Gun owners who continue to carry, either openly or concealed, are simply continuing to exercise their Second Amendment rights as they always have, and the multiple legal challenges that have been filed in response to Grisham’s declaration should soon make that abundantly clear to the governor and any state official willing to try to enforce it.
The biggest question isn’t whether or not Grisham’s order will stand up to legal scrutiny, but why she made the ill-fated decision to unilaterally suspend the Second Amendment right to bear arms inside Albuquerque city limits in the first place. Grisham’s move doesn’t appear to have been coordinated with any major gun control organizations, and it appeared to blindside local Democrats and public officials, including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and police chief Harold Medina, as well as Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen described the order as unconstitutional and said he learned about the order just minutes before the announcement last week. https://t.co/dAAC3bu3QR
— News Radio KKOB (@KKOBradio) September 11, 2023
Political consultant Joe Monahan says the governor’s “grand but ultimately feckless gesture” is a sign that New Mexico Democrats are at odds with each other when it comes to addressing the high violent crime rate in the state’s largest city.
ABQ Mayor Keller and APD Chief Medina were indeed “thrown under the bus” as some Republicans gleefully asserted in the aftermath of that MLG news conference. The two city leaders said the gun ban will be enforced by state police not local law enforcement. That had the hecklers cackling that not enforcing the laws is par for the course for Medina and APD.
Chief Medina sat next to the Governor at the news conference. He looked sadder than Zozobra just before the match is lit. The painful murders of the children are a disaster for him and his department. We predict his tenure will end soon. As for Keller, the tire tracks from getting thrown under the bus by MLG are going to be hard to wash off.
The Democratic Party with MLG, Heinrich, Torrez, Haaland and Keller vying for control is in for some turbulent times as the party starts to split apart on the crime crisis.
To that end, Monahan reports that House Democrats have decided to keep quiet about the governor’s order, though that won’t be a tenable strategy for long with Republicans vowing to launch impeachment proceedings in response to her unconstitutional dictate. Sooner or later they’re going to have to say something about the governor’s attempt to infringe on the rights of lawful citizens, but the silence in the immediate aftermath of her order speaks volumes about lack of support among her ostensible allies in the legislature.
Columnist Milan Simonich of the Santa Fe New Mexican has derided Grisham’s order as well, pointing out that at a time when the state has billions of dollars in new revenue, the governor is wasting time, money, and political capital going after lawful gun owners instead of addressing the role that the illegal drug trade plays in crime across the state.
The governor also has a chance to lead a smarter approach to the endless war on drugs. She can use the power of her position to pinpoint and pay for effective treatment programs in hopes of drying up demand for illegal drugs.
Lujan Grisham has the charisma and passion to rally the public behind those efforts. But by persisting with a blanket order banning firearms, she has created a sideshow.
In 45 years of daily newspapering, I’ve covered hundreds of murders committed with handguns. A handful involved someone licensed by a state to carry a concealed firearm.
The overwhelming majority were drug murders. Most of the shooters were convicted felons already prohibited by state and federal laws from possessing a gun.
If police in Albuquerque solve the tragic murder of young Froylan Villegas, my bet is at least one of the shooters already has a felony record.
Lujan Grisham acknowledged certain police chiefs who support many of her ideas disapprove of her ban on guns in Albuquerque. The chiefs swore an oath to abide by and enforce the law, including statutes enabling law-abiding citizens to carry guns.
All the noise Lujan Grisham is generating takes the focus off enforcement and creates a different target — the governor herself.
Maybe that’s the endgame: promoting her own political profile at the expense of individual safety and our inherent civil rights.
With the courts almost certain to put the kibosh on Grisham’s carry ban, Walters believes that’s a distinct possibility; to portray herself as a gun control champion ultimately thwarted by an activist judiciary. That seems like a fair reading of the situation, though I suspect that Grisham is also hoping to spur other Democratic governors into taking similar steps and moving the gun control Overton Window even further to the left. So far that hasn’t happened, and if Grisham’s order is quickly put on hold I doubt that other anti-gunners like Phil Murphy and Kathy Hochul will follow her lead, even if they’d love to eradicate the right to carry in their own states.
I’m sure that Grisham has an end game in mind, but I doubt that her vision involves her looking weaker politically, unconcerned about violating the constitutional rights of residents, and unable to do anything of substance to address violent crime; all of which is the case at the moment. The only thing that Grisham’s order has done to date is remind gun-owning New Mexicans of the contempt the governor has for them and their right to bear arms; a fact they’re not likely to forget by the time next year’s elections roll around.