By Matt Manda
New Mexico Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham held a recent press conference to praise herself for implementing legally dubious gun control measures.
Her initial 30-day suspension of Constitutional rights was forcefully and roundly criticized. Even Everytown for Gun Safety-endorsed Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen flat out rejected enforcing it.
Now, as the governor extended her “emergency order” for an additional 30 days, she touted the early successes in targeting criminal firearm misuse in Albuquerque. Most of the results she celebrated, however, come from law enforcement getting tough and holding criminals accountable for breaking laws, not from restricting the rights of law-abiding New Mexicans.
Criminals seem to be carrying on.
Restrict, Backtrack, Repeat
For Governor Grisham, it’s a pattern. It’s always about going overboard and restricting rights, then walking it back once she’s been rebuffed. During her first term, she brought her gun control bona fides to the Moms Demand Action/Everytown for Gun Safety Veepstakes audition to join President Joe Biden’s presidential election ticket. Her sales pitch failed.
The governor tried choking off gun rights during the COVID-19 pandemic by closing down firearm retailers under the guise of those businesses not being “essential.” The backlash was swift and fierce. When faced with the legal certainty that her order wouldn’t pass constitutional muster, including legal challenges supported by NSSF, the governor relented and allowed firearm retailers to reopen.
Fast forward to September and the governor was at it again. She declared a public health emergency in Bernalillo County that suspended Second Amendment rights and prohibited all lawful open and concealed carrying of firearms.
“There are literally too many people to arrest,” the governor said. “If there’s an emergency … I can invoke additional powers. No constitutional right, in my view … is intended to be absolute.”
Even some of the gun control industry’s most stalwart schemers knocked the announcement, including March for Our Lives co-founder David Hogg. U.S. Rep. David Lieu (D-Calif.) criticized Governor Grisham’s reasoning, posting on social media, “This order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution … There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”
Once again, a judge placed a temporary restraining order on the concealed and public carry provisions of the public health order. And again the governor recoiled, narrowing her edict but extending the initial 30-day order by another thirty days while legal challenges work their way through the courts.
Tooting Her Own Horn
All the legal back and forth hasn’t stopped Gov. Grisham. She held a press conference to praise her own leadership.
“I won’t rest until we don’t have to talk about (gun violence) as an epidemic and a public health emergency,” the governor said. Responding to questions about her abilities to impose the anti-Second Amendment restrictions, the governor sounded like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “That’s a question that’s now moving to the courts. I need to know what we can and cannot do to keep New Mexicans safe,” she said.
The “successes” the governor touted have more to do with getting tough on criminals who are already ignoring and breaking the law and holding them accountable, and less to do with law-abiding, permit-carrying New Mexicans.
According to the media, Gov. Grisham highlighted the arrests of more than 500 people, “many for misdemeanors,” over the last three weeks. She “celebrated” the recovery of 20 stolen firearms. There have been more than 5,000 firearms reported stolen in Albuquerque over the past five years.
One more data point Gov. Grisham praised was that there were 38 fewer reported gun shots detected over a three-day window…a statistical blip lower than last year’s average of 100 each day.
Straying off message, Secretary of the New Mexico’s Public Health Department Patrick Allen said, “Gun violence is a disease, a contagion with symptoms,” adding, “homicides and criminal shootings are driving increases in gun violence.” State Corrections Secretary Alisha Lucero said focusing recent arrests on criminals has led to an 11 percent increase in the jail population at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
What Gov. Grisham and her cabinet officials didn’t reveal — or care to admit — is what percentage, if any, of those criminals arrested were lawful permit holders in the first place. That’s likely because that number is at or near zero.
Not the Problem
Gov. Grisham left out any reference to law-abiding New Mexicans exercising their Second Amendment rights while committing crimes or being included in her “stats of success,” most likely because there weren’t any. Or, at least, next to none.
Data show that concealed carry permit holders very rarely commit crimes using their firearms. In New Mexico, according to research, only 0.002 percent of law-abiding permit holders have had their permits revoked for any reason at all, including conviction for some nonviolent misdemeanors, let alone intentional violent crimes.
What’s more, studies by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics consistently show that criminals convicted of crimes involving a firearm admitted over 90 percent of the time that the firearm they criminally misused was obtained illegally, either by stealing them or through the black market or other illicit means.
Governor Grisham isn’t fooling anyone. She’s only making a fool of herself. Except she’s playing with New Mexicans’ Constitutional rights.
Her extreme emergency public health order was a ruse. The “successes” she’s bragging about are due to law enforcement going after criminals who were already ignoring and breaking the law, not restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens that her sham gun control orders impacted.
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.