N.M. @GovMLG: “It’s not for police to tell me what’s constitutional or not. They haven’t supported one, not one gun violence effort in the state of New Mexico, including domestic violence protections, universal background checks.” pic.twitter.com/KE7YT0BS9B
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 12, 2023
New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham created a constitutional crisis when she published an emergency public health order banning law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Or she didn’t. She may have revealed that she’s nothing more than an emperor with no clothing.
Gov. Grisham issued a public health order that bans carrying firearms in Bernalillo County on public property. The ban is in effect for the next 30 days. She also ordered the state’s Regulation and Licensing Division to conduct monthly inspections of licensed firearm retailers to ensure compliance with all sales and storage laws.
Second Amendment Brick Wall
There’s just one problem – there’s a pretty important document that says that Gov. Grisham – nor any other public official – can’t unilaterally suspend rights belonging to “The People.” The U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights makes clear that certain rights are endowed by our Creator. Gov. Grisham is treating these rights as privileges that she can pluck away at her whim. She’s exhibiting her contempt for the Constitution, her oath of office, and New Mexico’s voters.
Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, said a spokeswoman for Gov. Grisham to the Associated Press. Residents can transport guns to some private locations, including a gun range or gun store, so long as the firearm is locked in a container or rendered impossible to discharge with a locking device.
The governor might want to familiarize herself with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller, McDonald, and Bruen decisions. The Court has spoken on these issues and the bad news is the governor isn’t going to like the answers. Gov. Grisham admitted early on that she knew this flagrant maneuver would run afoul of the Constitution.
“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” Gov. Grisham said in a news conference. “I’ve warned everyone that we expect a direct challenge, probably as you’re writing this we’re getting a challenge, and that’s the way it should work.”
Except, she doesn’t believe that at all. She believes she’s the final authority and the citizens of New Mexico are her subjects, not a set of laws to which she must answer.
🚨Bernalilllo County Sheriff John Allen calls New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order banning concealed carry “unconstitutional” and says it will not be enforced
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 11, 2023
“No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute,” she told media when asked of the order’s legality.
She’s stepping into a legal minefield. The Second Amendment is pretty clear – clear enough that even gun control advocates David Hogg and Ryan Busse, both representing organizations that salivate over the idea of banning entire classes of firearms, said she’s in unconstitutional territory. They agreed there is no public health exception to God-given rights. Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), no stranger to just about any gun control idea pitched in Washington, D.C., also agreed.
Gov. Grisham can’t just suspend constitutional rights willy-nilly, no matter how serious she claims she is about it. She also can’t force inspections on firearm retailers in New Mexico because the state lacks the authority to do it.
There is no New Mexico firearm dealer’s license, no New Mexico regulations covering firearm retailers and no New Mexico laws covering sales or storage by firearm retailers. The New Mexico Department of Health order directs the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Division to “inspect,” but leaves out the fact there’s no New Mexico law regulating firearm retailers, which are already regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms.
Gov. Grisham’s insistence she has authority to wipe out Constitutional rights isn’t enchanting anyone in the Land of Enchantment.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman told media, “As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional. This office will continue to focus on criminals of any age that use guns in the commission of a crime.”
“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said in a statement. “I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina was quick to disavow any responsibility for enforcing Gov. Grisham’s unconstitutional order.
“The governor made it clear that state law enforcement, and not [Albuquerque Police Department], will be responsible for enforcement of civil violations of the order,” he said.
Please see my response in regards to the Governor’s recent order: pic.twitter.com/JdQdu9ZXRB
— Joseph L. Sanchez (@JosephSanchezNM) September 12, 2023
Republican state Reps. Stefani Lord and John Block are now calling for her impeachment, citing her order as an infringement on New Mexicans’ Second Amendment rights.
“We made an oath, which is a promise that we swear that we’re going to uphold the Constitution, the rights of New Mexicans, and she threw that right out the window,” said Rep. Lord. Rep. Lord told Fox News that, “… she can’t just raise her hand one day and say, I promise to uphold this oath and promised to protect the people of New Mexico and the Constitution, and then just one day decide, oh, just kidding.”
“Our governor, she called for open season on law-abiding citizens by subverting the state and federal constitutions and laws of our state, and that’s something that needs to be remedied immediately,” said Rep. Block.
Second Time Offender
The governor’s arrogance and disdain for Second Amendment rights aren’t all that surprising. This isn’t the first time she’s tried to use emergency executive authority to unilaterally wipe out Second Amendment rights in New Mexico. Gov. Grisham was among several state governors, including – certain cities and counties in California,as well as Delaware,Massachusetts,Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington – that barred firearm retailers from opening during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
NSSF secured the inclusion of firearm retailers and ranges as essential critical services, with federal guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Gov. Grisham ignored that. It was then she showed her disregard for the Constitution. Gov. Grisham sent state police to shut down Calibers, a firearm retailer and range. She was sued and ended up revising her order rather than facing defeat in court.
☕Rise and shine!
— Rep Stefani Lord (@Lord4NM) September 11, 2023
This all goes back to what NSSF has said before, warning that gun control activist politicians would seize on a supposed “public health crisis” to infringe upon and do away with Second Amendment rights. Crime, though, isn’t a public health issue. It’s a criminal issue and a law enforcement issue. There’s no inoculation that would prevent criminals from committing crimes.
This could all be exceptionally dumb, or exceptionally needy for media attention. National Review’s Charles W. Cooke took a look and writes that there’s nothing in New Mexico’s laws, and certainly nothing in the U.S. Constitution, that would even hint at allowing this move that’s – let’s be honest – tyrannical.
“If our elected officials were allowed to shelve our unalienable rights every time they believed that those rights were being abused by outlaws, then they wouldn’t be unalienable rights; they’d be privileges,” Cooke writes. “What a mountain of tyrannical stupidity she has built. I expect it to be short-lived.”
Gov. Grisham’s orders might not go away without the courts weighing in. At least six lawsuits have already been filed. They might not be the only ones. NSSF represents those firearm retailers that would be subject to Gov. Grisham’s unlawful inspection orders. The firearm industry trade association will meet the governor in court, if needed, to show her that she doesn’t wear a crown and her order is unconstitutional.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.