Grisham gripes that NRA is "late to the party," but they're likely to have the last laugh

(AP Photo/Juan Antonio Labreche)

At first glance, the timing of the new lawsuit taking on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s now-suspended (and newly-revised) order cancelling the right to carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County does seem a little odd. After all, the National Rifle Association, along a number of other co-plaintiffs, filed suit after a federal judge had already granted a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of her order; something the governor seemed to delight in when she was snarking on X/Twitter Thursday evening.


But while the half-dozen or so lawsuits that were the subject of an emergency hearing before U.S. District Judge David H. Urias were based around a Second Amendment challenge, the NRA lawsuit was instead filed in state court, and alleges that Grisham’s public health order suspending the right to carry is a violation of New Mexico’s constitution and existing state law.

These orders are also a power grab in violation of the state Constitution, which vests legislative authority in the legislature. New Mexico law generally allows law-abiding individuals to carry firearms openly or concealed with a license. (The legislature also rejected a bill to test for illicit substances in public schools and supported the juvenile probation program that the order now suspends.) Lujan Grisham has a constitutional duty to execute state law—and the Constitution. She must allow people to exercise the legal rights granted to them. There are no exceptions. The Constitution does not take a vacation during so-called emergencies. New Mexico’s Public Health Emergency Response Act (“PHERA”) and the New Mexico Supreme Court directly told the governor this in Grisham v. Reeb: “PHERA’s purpose is to … ‘provide the state of New Mexico with the ability to manage public health emergencies in a manner that protects civil rights and the liberties of individual persons.’”

These orders cannot go unchallenged. That is why NRA challenged them directly in the New Mexico Supreme Court. The case is captioned Ambdor v. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Other parties to the lawsuit include the Republican party of New Mexico, Libertarian Party of New Mexico, several members of the legislature, law-abiding gun owners, law-enforcement professionals, and an FFL who are all affected by the orders.


The governor’s public health order claiming a state of emergency exists in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County because of rampant violent crime didn’t protect the civil rights and liberties of individual persons. Quite the opposite. In both her original and revised orders, lawful gun owners were told they were forbidden (in one case broadly, in the most recent order more narrowly) exercise their right to bear arms in self-defense because the governor declared that violent crime is out of control; a situation that should have elevated the importance of self-protection, not obliterate it as Grisham has tried to do.

Though the federal litigation has fared well to date, there’s no guarantee that an activist judge or appellate panel won’t reverse course and uphold the governor’s proclamation, and bringing a separate challenge based on state law seems like a reasonable course of action to take, if only to serve as a backstop to any potential shenanigans in the federal judiciary. The governor can snark all she wants about the timing of the litigation brought by the NRA and others, but none of her complaints change the fact that her order appears to be in clear violation of the New Mexico constitution as well as the Second Amendment.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member