ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A victory for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in court, at least for now, in the fight over her controversial gun ban. A federal court denied the preliminary injunction against the governor’s health order, allowing for the enforcement against carrying guns in public parks and playgrounds. But, will law enforcement actually enforce the ban, and give people tickets?
Early on, law enforcement agencies expressed disagreement with the governor’s public health order; and that disagreement hasn’t gone away. “I have enough violence here in Bernalillo County. I do not want to have political violence towards my deputies or here in Bernalillo County,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen in early September when the order first came out. “In reference to concealed carry and open carry, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office will not enforce this segment of the order,” Allen said then. He was speaking out against a provision in the public health order that called for a ban on open and concealed carry of guns in Bernalillo County at large.
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The governor later amended the order, narrowing the scope of where guns would be banned after a flurry of lawsuits were filed by gun rights advocates. “It’s modified that we’re showing the relationship to protecting kids and families with high risk activities in the city and in Bernalillo County,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico said at the time.
“After the judge threw down the first public health order, the governor had to change it and now I think we’re going to see this judge do the exact same thing which is throw this one out too,” Dudley Brown, president of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, said earlier this month.
But the judge upheld the latest order, raising the question: will law enforcement actually cite people? Sheriff Allen told News 13 Thursday he’s sticking to his position: BCSO will not enforce the gun ban.
“I stand firm on what I said…getting repeat violent offenders with firearms off the street. That’s what we’re focused on,” Allen says. A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office sent News 13 a statement, reading: “The Sheriff’s Office will not enforce the public health order related to concealed and open carry in parks. Though we acknowledge the order’s intent, our attention is on the pressing violent crime issues in our community. We are prioritizing impactful initiatives, such as Operation Clean Sweep, that have a track record of reducing crime. Our dedication lies in strategic efforts and partnerships that genuinely address the gun violence crisis and improve quality of life.”
Albuquerque Police Department Police Chief Harold Medina sent News 13 a statement today as well, reading: “Mayor Keller and I have worked to keep guns out of city parks and near schools in Downtown Albuquerque for the same reason guns are not allowed on school property,” APD Chief Harold Medina said. “These should be safe spaces. Families should not be afraid to go to parks or take their kids to playgrounds.”
“APD will investigate all criminal offenses involving a firearm. When officers encounter individuals who violate the state’s emergency order and possession is the only violation, they will forward those cases to the New Mexico State Police.”
News 13 asked New Mexico State Police whether they will be enforcing the order and issuing citations. While they did not explicitly say whether they would be giving people tickets for people carrying guns in those spaces, but did say in a statement:
“The New Mexico State Police have been working hard in the Metro area, making a meaningful impact on crime. This ruling provides law enforcement with additional enforcement options when applicable. Gun violence continues to disrupt lives every day and State Police will continue to protect the public by focusing our efforts on the offenders perpetrating that violence.”New Mexico State Police Chief Troy Weisler
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller also weighed in, saying in a statement “This order will greatly bolster our city’s two-year-old prohibition on guns in places where children play, spaces that should be safe for all our families. This kind of collaboration between the state and city can only help our fight against gun violence.”Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller
The National Foundation for Gun Rights sent News 13 a statement in reaction to the ruling, saying:
“Our lawsuit has successfully forced Governor Grisham to back down significantly, which is a win for the law-abiding citizens of Albuquerque and Bernalillo. That said, her approach is clearly to ask just how much gun control the courts will let her get away with, and we found the answer with this ruling.
“We will continue fighting her public health gun ban for public parks and playgrounds, because all gun-free zones are unconstitutional. With everything that’s going on in the world today, we need to harden these targets, not soften them. It is both unconstitutional and inhumane to leave children in playgrounds at the mercy of criminals and tell citizens they cannot defend themselves in city parks.”Hannah Hill, Executive Director, National Foundation for Gun Rights
The governor sent out her own press release, expressing her support of the court’s ruling reading in part: “I am pleased that the court’s ruling today has upheld gun violence as an epidemic in this state. The public health order will temporarily keep guns out of parks and playgrounds in Bernalillo County. Just as in schools, our children deserve to learn and play without fear. Our families need to know that their safety is our priority.”Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham