While U.S. District Judge David H. Urias seemed awfully sympathetic to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham at times, the Biden appointee ultimately ruled against the governor in a hearing on Wednesday afternoon, opining that under the Supreme Court precedent he “has to” follow, the public health order and executive order suspending the right to carry are likely to violate the Second Amendment; granting a temporary restraining order and halting whatever enforcement may have taken place.
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) September 13, 2023
The first sign that Urias found the governor’s order too much of an overreach came when he addressed the governor’s attorney at the outset of her arguments, telling her that she had a “hard road here, especially given the Supreme Court’s holding in Bruen.”
It was a burden she proved unable, and largely unwilling, to bear. Instead of trying to refute Bruen and its acknowledgment of the fundamental importance of the right to bear arms in self-defense, the attorney claimed that Bruen is so flawed that it shouldn’t play much, if any, of a role in deciding the future of the governor’s order.
“We’re looking at something that did not exist” at the time of the Founding, she insisted: the co-mingling of two very serious issues- drugs and guns. This “confluence of emergencies” requires a very temporary “cooling off” period, she maintained, but her insistence that the underlying issue was “more guns on the street” was in direct contradiction to her insistence that this was only a temporary measure. If the problem is supposedly “more guns”, then why would the governor ever lift the emergency declaration after the initial 30 days expired?
Most of what I heard from the governor’s attorney sounded like a political speech, not a legal argument. The Governor “rejects the notion that we can’t try”. “Rejects the notion that she can’t even try to keep the streets safe”, which is absolute nonsense. There are plenty of things the governor could do without infringing on the rights of residents, as one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys pointed out. She could call out the National Guard to assist the Albuquerque police. She could bring back legislators to Santa Fe to work on a crime bill. She could request help for Bernalillo County from outside jurisdictions. She could move state troopers from outlying areas into the city.
She’s done none of that, and I doubt she does it now. Instead, as a plaintiffs’ attorney noted, she’s telling Albuquerque residents that crime is so bad that only the police are allowed to protect them, that they’re no longer allowed to protect themselves. The governor’s attorney basically argued that gun owners aren’t to be trusted, that every concealed carry holder is a murderer waiting to happen.
Grisham’s order may have been temporary, but it was also open-ended, just like her war on the right to carry. We’ll see if the governor appeals the judge’s order to the Tenth Circuit, but don’t be surprised if we also see her call for the legislature to craft a new and expansive list of “sensitive places” across the entire state in short order. The governor’s attorney all but hinted at that by referencing the cornucopia of “gun-free zones” passed by New York lawmakers after Bruen, and if she can’t ban the carrying of guns in the entirety of Bernalillo County she may very well try to do it piece-by-piece as we’ve seen in New York, New Jersey, and most recently, California.