New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued her now infamous order a week ago today. She knew she’d get pushback, but I doubt she knew how much.
Obviously, the regular folks would take issue with it and take her directive to court, which happened and now there’s a court order preventing enforcement of such an egregious act.
But she also got a lot of pushback from her own side.
Over at left-leaning The Week, writer Harold Maass notes that there were a number of reasons why Grisham’s plan backfired.
The backlash was quick, as everyone — including Lujan Grisham — expected. Four gun rights groups immediately filed lawsuits challenging Lujan Grisham’s “public health emergency” order, Reason noted. U.S. District Court Judge David Urias agreed, saying the policy violated a landmark 2022 Supreme Court ruling that gives Americans the right to carry guns for self defense under the Constitution’s Second Amendment. And that’s just one reason that liberals and conservatives alike objected to Lujan Grisham’s drastic move. Here are some of the main gripes from both sides:
Nobody was willing to enforce a gun ban
The governor just made herself look “unserious” and “ineffectual,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. New Mexicans across the political spectrum rejected Lujan Grisham’s gun ban “Diktat” instantly, “by acclamation,” even before the judge made it official. More than 100 pistol-packing protesters marched through Albuquerque’s Old Town on Sunday. State police declined to issue any citations, and Bernalillo County’s Democratic sheriff, John Allen, said there was “no way we could enforce” such an obviously unconstitutional order. Lujan wanted to show she meant business, but she came off as “unserious.” Let that be a lesson to any governor “tempted to violate the Constitution to make a political point.”
Honestly, she could have at least talked with officials there to see if this was something they’d even bother to enforce. She or her people could have floated this as a “Would something like this help?” and responded accordingly.
Instead, she just made a pronouncement that clearly took local officials off-guard.
Plus, as we’ve noted, Grisham signed a bill into law that ended qualified immunity for police officers, meaning anyone who did make an arrest on the order risked ending up in court themselves.
Maass also noted that the order targeted the wrong people, namely people who were carrying lawfully. Grisham acknowledged that criminals weren’t going to obey her order, so what was the point? Why target people who you know aren’t the problem?
I mean, even if you assume people with permits aren’t law-abiding–an idiotic assumption, but work with me here–the order isn’t going to stop those who decide they’re going to violate the law anyway. In fact, many did just so they could sue the state.
Yet it should be noted that Grisham kind of screwed her own side on this.
Lujan Grisham is hurting her own cause
Gun violence is indeed a public health crisis, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate. But the law Lujan Grisham was trying to use was “plainly aimed at infectious diseases,” not anything deemed dangerous. Besides, there is “no evidence” that people who legally carry firearms publicly contribute “to the explosion in gun violence that moved Lujan Grisham to act.” Still, these law-abiding citizens faced a $5,000 fine if they violated this ban. No wonder everyone from gun rights groups to the American Civil Liberties Union had problems with it. “The governor has leveraged an emergency health law to suspend a right protected by state statute, the state constitution, and Supreme Court precedent.” That kind of overreach is a gift to Republicans who want to convince voters that Democrats want to take away your guns.
Grisham has been trying to frame this as her being the only one with the guts to address the problems in Albuquerque, but at the end of the day, she tipped the Democrats’ hands.
“No one wants to take away your guns,” they tell us, but now we can point to Grisham’s stunt and counter that.
Sure, she didn’t try to confiscate them–that would have gone over even worse than her directive did–but she decided to unilaterally take away people’s right to bear arms. That’s going to be hard to overcome for many Democrats.
It’s why so many took to criticizing the action.
Yet even there, Grisham’s move caused problems. After all, when anti-gunners start admitting that the right to bear arms is, in fact, a constitutional right–and, arguably, an individual one–you’ve got to believe that’s going to come up later on in the gun debate.
Let’s be clear here, Grisham screwed the pooch.
Not only did she not accomplish what she set out to do, but she showed herself to be a weak governor and scuttled any post-governor career plans in politics she might have entertained.