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Governor suspends right to carry firearms in public in Albuquerque due to gun violence

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(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has temporarily banned the right to carry firearms in public in Albuquerque in response to recent gun violence.

Lujan Grisham issued on Friday a 30-day suspension of open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque, the state’s most populous city, is seated. There are exceptions for law enforcement officers and licensed security guards.

The move comes a day after she declared gun violence a public health emergency in the state.

“[The] time for standard measures has passed,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “And when New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game — when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn — something is very wrong.”

The Democratic governor cited the recent shooting deaths of three children in her decision to declare gun violence a public health emergency. Most recently, an 11-year-old boy was fatally shot outside a minor league baseball stadium in Albuquerque on Wednesday during a possible road rage incident, police said.

On July 28, a 13-year-old girl was fatally shot by a 14-year-old while at a friend’s house in the Village of Questa, state police said. On Aug. 14, a 5-year-old girl was fatally shot while sleeping at a residence in Albuquerque after someone fired into the trailer home, police said.

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19 in New Mexico, Lujan Grisham said.

The governor also noted two mass shootings that occurred in the state this year among the recent spate of gun violence.

Three people were killed and six others injured, including two police officers, after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire in Farmington over a nearly quarter-mile stretch of the neighborhood on May 15, police said.

Later that month, three people were killed and five injured after a biker gang shootout erupted in Red River over Memorial Day weekend, police said.

The suspension of open and concealed carry laws pertains to cities or counties averaging 1,000 or more violent crimes per 100,000 residents per year since 2021 and more than 90 firearm-related emergency department visits per 100,000 residents from July 2022 to June 2023, according to the order. Bernalillo County and Albuquerque are the only two places in the state right now that meet those standards.

“Any person or entity who willfully violates this order may be subject to civil administrative penalties available at law,” the order states.

The governor anticipates legal challenges to the order.

“I can invoke additional powers,” Lujan Grisham said when signing the order on Friday. “No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute.”

New Mexico Shooting Sports Association President Zachary Fort told ABC Albuquerque affiliate KOAT the organization is planning to challenge the order, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in a major Second Amendment case.

“What the governor tried to do flies directly in the face of the [New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen] decision by the Supreme Court, where they found that you have a constitutionally protected right to carry a firearm outside your own home,” Fort told the station. “The Supreme Court said that very clearly in their Bruen decision. So, it’s clearly contradictory to that.”

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