New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an emergency public health order on Friday, suspending laws that allow open and concealed carry of firearms in Albuquerque for 30 days.
The order, which takes effect immediately, is in response to recent cases of gun-related violence in and around the city. Grisham specifically mentioned gunfire that left an 11-year-old boy dead and other woman injured on Wednesday after they were shot in their vehicle in an apparent road rage incident while leaving a baseball game.
“As I said yesterday, the time for standard measures has passed,” Grisham, a Democrat, said in a press release that accompanied Friday’s order. “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.”
Grisham declared gun violence a public health emergency in an executive order on Thursday.
Where Open and Concealed Firearms Got Banned
The order only applies to cities meeting a certain threshold for violent crime rates. This includes cities or counties where 1,000 or more violent crimes per 100,00 residents have occurred per year since 2021 and where 90 firearms-related emergency room visits per 100,000 residents have occurred between July 2022 and June of this year.
At the moment, only Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County met this threshold.
Licensed security personnel and law enforcement officers are not included in the temporary ban. Private citizens who have a permit to carry firearms are also still free to possess their weapons on private property, read the order, including at a gun range or gun store.
Under New Mexico law, any citizen age 19 or older can openly carry a loaded firearm without a license, and individuals with a permit are allowed to carry up to one concealed firearm. Gun laws in other parts of the state will not be impacted by Friday’s order.
What State Republicans Are Saying
Gun safety laws often stir up intense political arguments, and Republican state representatives in New Mexico wasted no time vocalizing their discontent for Grisham’s latest order.
GOP State Representative Tanya Mirabal Moya, who represents New Mexico’s 7th Congressional District, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the Democratic governor had “reached a new level” in response to the temporary ban.
“Makes sense to take away the RIGHTS of law abiding citizens to control the criminals,” Moya wrote. “I am sure the criminals will just fall in line.”
State Representative John Block, who represents the 51st District, called the order “impeachable” over his X account.
“Extremist [Grisham] today illegally signed an order banning ALL Albuquerque residents from having their Constitutional right to carry a firearm either concealed or openly—violating both state and federal constitutions, laws, and statutes,” Block wrote.
In a statement shared with Newsweek, Steve Pearce, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, also called Grisham’s order illegal, echoing the sentiment that the restrictions won’t affect criminals in the state from getting ahold of firearms.
“This order removes protection from law-abiding New Mexican gun owners, leaving them and their families vulnerable in a city with the highest violent crime,” Pearce said. “How does that make sense?
“Dangerous criminals won’t be affected by the Governor’s order and will continue to prey on vulnerable targets,” he continued. “Those who will be affected are the many responsible, gun-carrying women and mothers who will be left defenseless and unable to protect themselves and their children.”
Grisham told reporters during a news conference Friday that she expects the new restrictions to “pose incredible challenges for me as a governor and as a state” and is anticipating legal challenges against her administration’s order.
“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” the governor added, according to a report from the Associated Press.
What Are New Mexico’s Gun Violence Rates?
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, New Mexico had nearly double the rate of violent crimes than the country’s average in 2021, with roughly 778 incidents per 100,000 residents compared to 398 incidents per 100,000 residents nationally.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also listed New Mexico as having one of the highest rates of firearms-related mortality in the United States. In 2021, the state experienced 27.8 gun-related deaths per 100,000 citizens. That placed it third on the agency’s chart behind Mississippi (33.9 per 100,000) and Louisiana (29.1 per 100,000).
On May 15, an 18-year-old gunman killed three people and wounded seven others after opening fire on a residential street in Farmington, New Mexico. Responding police officers shot and killed the shooter at the scene.
Later that month, multiple people were shot at a motorcycle rally in Red River, New Mexico, after a confrontation between motorcycle gangs, police said. Three people were killed and five others sustained injuries.
This year, several children have also been killed by firearms in New Mexico. In August, 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego was fatally shot during a drive-by shooting in Albuquerque after four teenagers entered the community in stolen vehicles and opened fire on the mobile home in which the child was sleeping.
Amber Archuleta, 13, was also shot and killed in Taos County in July by a 14-year-old boy who had possession of his father’s handgun, according to New Mexico state police.