ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After causing an uproar when she banned guns in public places in Bernalillo County, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham amended her health order to only ban guns in parks and playgrounds. But there are still questions on Wednesday night if it’s enforceable.
“It’s a valiant effort, but I’m afraid it’s doomed.” University of New Mexico law professor Joshua Kastenberg agrees there is a critical need to address gun violence.
“You have a well-meaning governor who’s trying to solve a problem. But the tools to solve the problem are not only confined in her office, there’s a political process and a lawmaking process. That is the best means of making some permanent change,” said Kastenberg.
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Citing an emergency after the murder of an 11-year-old killed while leaving an Albuquerque Isotopes game, the governor suspended open and concealed carry in public places almost two weeks ago.
The order caused major backlash and several lawsuits saying the ban infringed on constitutional rights. Last week, a federal judge ruled against the gun ban and issued a temporary restraining order, blocking its enforcement by state police.
Days after that, the governor issued a revised version of the order, this one banning guns in public parks in Bernalillo County. Kastenberg said even with the changes it still won’t hold up in court. “The parks in Bernalillo County that the order covers are still public areas. And I believe that if the legislature were to act and create a firearms condition there, or even a ban, it could withstand scrutiny. But we’re still back in the problem of one branch of government creating a law,” said Kastenberg.
He agrees with local leaders that a significant change in the law is what is needed, something with teeth and something that can last longer than a public health order. “Go to the legislature, get meaningful laws passed that are not only deterrent in nature in the criminal law. And that could be enhanced sentences, that could be new crimes, and also new tort. You know, new tort avenues,” said Kastenberg.
Since the revision was announced by the governor, New Mexico State Police said that no citations have been given. News 13 reached out to the governor’s office Wednesday and is waiting for comment.