When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s declared a “public health emergency” due to gun violence back in September, she made a lot of noise about the order being temporary. In fact, that was one of the main arguments deployed in her attempt to keep her ban on concealed carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County in place. Grisham’s attorney failed to convince a U.S. District Court judge that a total ban on lawful carrying comported with the Constitution, even temporarily, but the judge did allow for the governor’s revised order prohibiting concealed carry in parks and playgrounds in the city and county to be enforced while the lawsuit against her order continues.
The litigation is still ongoing, and as it turns out, so is the governor’s “temporary” declaration. After renewing her public health order in October and November, the governor has once again declared the carry ban will remain in effect at least through the end of the year.
In her executive orders, Gov. Lujan Grisham ordered a coordinated response to these public health emergencies involving the Department of Health, Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Department of Public Safety and Health Care Authority.
The updated executive orders will not have any changes from the prior versions and keep the current public health orders on gun violence and substance misuse in place.
Lt. Gov. Howie Morales signed the executive orders, as the governor is currently out of the state.
The governor will reportedly provide an update on the progress of the work around gun violence later this month. Data can be found on the gun violence dashboard.
That “dashboard” hasn’t been updated since early November, so some new figures would be good to see. While the governor hasn’t done a good job of keeping the public up to date on crime in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Police Department at least releases weekly data on homicides, and there’s some good news to be found in the figures. According to APD, as of December 1st, murders are down about 20 percent in the city compared to the same time period as last year; 91 homicides in 2023 compared to 115 in 2022.
The problem for Grisham, at least when it comes to her stated justification for declaring a public health emergency based on “gun violence”, is that the number of homicides in Albuquerque was already trending lower than last year when she made her announcement on September 8th. According to APD statistics, the city had recorded 74 homicides from January 1st through September 8th this year; while in 2022 the city had investigated 94 homicides through September 8th.
The drop in murders is undeniable, but there’s absolutely no evidence that Grisham’s public health order has anything to do with it; particularly her ban on lawful concealed carry in parks and playgrounds. Though the governor has touted the number of arrests made, guns seized, and traffic citations issued since she issued her declaration, her office has yet to send out a single press release highlighting a citation handed out to someone caught carrying a concealed firearm at any of the locations she unilaterally declared to be “gun-free zones.”
You know that Lujan Grisham would be tripping over herself to get a statement to the local media if any citation had been issued, so my guess is that her revised carry ban is being enforced just as strictly as her original ban was; not at all. So why has the governor kept the ban in place for three months knowing it’s had no impact? Probably for the same reason my dog licks his nether regions with gleeful abandon; because he can. The governor’s stated purpose for the carry ban was public safety, but the real goal was and has been to see just how far the courts will let her go in infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her orders renewed on a monthly basis until or unless they get smacked down; either from a federal judge or the state Supreme Court, which is also set to hear arguments about the governor’s authority to declare an emergency on gun violence and drugs early next month.