It wasn’t all that long ago when New Mexico dominated the national attention in the gun debate. Why? Because Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham decided to unilaterally ban all lawful carry in Albuquerque.
The ban didn’t last long, thankfully, but it was still indicative of what a governor can and likely will do when they take a “public health” approach to so-called gun violence and use the overreaches of the COVID-19 pandemic as a guidebook.
When that ban failed, she decided to limit it to banning the lawful carry of firearms in parks, which a judge ruled was acceptable on Wednesday. It’s not, but I can at least see the argument that this falls under the idea of “sensitive places,” even if it’s a stretch to figure parks are that sensitive. They’re vacant lots with swing sets, for crying out loud.
Yet Grisham was still defending her initial actions as she waited on the judge’s ruling.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday defended her decision to treat gun violence as a public health epidemic, citing statistics on recent firearms seizures, reduced reports of gunfire in the Albuquerque metro area and an uptick in jail bookings, while awaiting a crucial court ruling on a signature effort to suspend gun-carry rights in public parks and playgrounds.
The governor last week extended an emergency public health order regarding gun violence an additional 30 days into early November. A federal judge has temporarily blocked provisions that suspended the right to carry guns in public parks, playgrounds and other areas where children recreate, setting a Wednesday deadline for a ruling on whether to indefinitely block the restrictions while several court challenges are resolved.
Lujan Grisham appeared at the news conference alongside Cabinet secretaries not only for New Mexico’s Public Safety and Corrections departments but also child welfare services, pubic health and environmental protection agencies that are under orders to respond to the ravages of gun violence and drugs.
Lujan Grisham is confronting a public backlash from critics of her public health order who describe its gun restriction provisions as an assault on constitutional rights that allow a person to carry a firearm for self defense.
On Tuesday, the governor said she has a responsibility to explore opportunities for gun-free “safe spaces” amid shifting judicial precedent.
First, there were a lot of other things included in the emergency order besides the gun control elements, all of which remain, and Grisham claims they couldn’t have been done without this order. That’s BS. All of them could, they would just need the legislature involved. This was an attempt to bypass it because they wouldn’t pass gun control. The other stuff was probably included just because they didn’t want it to look like an afterthought.
Grisham wanted the gun control and she got it…for about a week.
It was never going to fly. You cannot unilaterally suspend the right to bear arms for everyone, even under an “emergency.”
Yet she tried.
In the process, she tipped the anti-gunners’ hands. We now know exactly what a “public health approach” looks like and none of us want anything to do with it.
Whenever a politicians starts throwing around the words, we’ll be responding by pointing out what happened in New Mexico.
Grisham took her shot and missed. Now we all know the play and we’re not interested in letting it happen all over again.
Which is a shame, in a way, because some aspects of this “public health” approach are really about preventing crime in the first place, which is a win for all of us. It’s just that people like Grisham can’t go with that without also blaming guns.