All of the lawsuits are similar, arguing that the Public Health Order (PHO) goes against the United States Constitution.
“We are making sure that this never happens again,” said Luis Valdes, a spokesperson for Gun Owners of America (GOA). “We want to make sure that the right to keep and bear arms is fully protected and that there’s no further infringement upon it like what we’re seeing in New Mexico at the moment.”
GOA lawsuit suggests the Governor’s PHO violates the Second Amendment. Other lawsuits have also been filed by a former law enforcement officer and three other gun rights advocacy groups.
They all claimed the governor does not have the power to strip the right to bear arms from New Mexico residents. Further, the lawsuit argues that abiding citizens will pay the price for the health order, while criminals will continue to carry firearms.
“You have law enforcement officers who are going to follow this unconstitutional law, order, and they are then going to think anyone on the streets exercising their god-given right is a criminal,” Valdes explained.
Gov. Lujan Grisham has argued the health order will make Albuquerque safer, but gun advocates don’t buy it.
“She’s lying, and she even admitted that. During a press conference, she said she knows criminals will not abide by her edict, and in no way will it keep people safe,” Valdes added. “She’s doing this for political posturing.”
Some of the groups who’ve filed suit are asking for a temporary restraining order to immediately stop the enforcement of the health order.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico has also expressed concern regarding the order, saying they think it may lead to “over-policing in communities.”
“The ACLU of New Mexico is heartbroken over the recent death of a child and shares the governor’s concern for the well-being of our community,” ACLU of New Mexico stated. “However, we are equally concerned that her solution to the complicated problems of substance abuse, addiction, and gun violence is to pour more resources into law enforcement.”
The ACLU of New Mexico continued, “Historically, this kind of approach leads to the over-policing of our communities, racial profiling, and increased misery in the lives of already marginalized people. Instead, the governor should be following evidence-based solutions such as meaningful diversion and violence intervention programs and addressing the root causes of violence. The order also raises legitimate and pressing concerns about New Mexicans’ privacy.”
A New Mexico University law professor, Joshua Kastenberg, also commented on the topic, saying he believes the order will not hold up to legal scrutiny. He said, while the governor has broad executive powers targeting public health, judges are likely to scrutinize if those orders infringe on people’s rights.
“The United States Supreme Court has spoken loudly and clearly since the Heller case, 2008, that regulations against the carrying, and possessing of firearms have to be very narrow to serve a public interest to the degree that it would justify overriding that right,” Kastenberg explained.
In that 2008 case, the Supreme Court ruled that a ban on virtually all handguns in Washington D.C. was unlawful.
The governor’s PHO comes after several gun-related deaths this year, including the death of an 11-year-old boy who was shot and killed after leaving an Isotopes baseball game. Authorities are still searching for the suspect in that case.