Law-abiding New Mexicans can once again carry guns for self-defense after a federal judge ruled Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham can’t enforce her emergency ban.
District Judge David H. Urias, a Joe Biden appointee, issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in court today. The order, which hasn’t been published yet, enjoins the state from enforcing its total suspension of concealed and open carry in New Mexico’s largest city and county. The TRO goes into effect immediately and extends through October 3rd.
The speedy ruling, coming less than a week after the emergency gun-carry ban was enacted, signals the policy has little chance of surviving judicial scrutiny. The Governor’s order is the most straightforward challenge to date of the Supreme Court’s holding that the Second Amendment protects Americans’ right to carry a gun for self-defense in last year’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The immediate failure of the Governor’s outright carry ban in federal court likely means, unless she is successful in a potential appeal, the leaders of other states are unlikely to replicate her approach.
Governor Lujan Grisham did not respond to a request for comment on whether she plans to appeal. However, she took to Twitter to decry the ruling.
“Today a judge temporarily blocked sections of our public health order but recognized the significant problem of gun violence in this state,” she said. “I refuse to be resigned to the status quo, and I will never stop fighting to prevent other families from enduring these tragedies.”
Gun-rights advocates cheered their quick victory over the ban. At least five lawsuits were filed in as many days after Lujan Grisham announced the policy. The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Gun Owners of America (GOA), plaintiffs in the case, argued the ban was plainly unconstitutional and said the speedy decision was evidence they were correct.
“We are delighted that the court wasted no time in clamping down on Gov. Lujan Grisham’s clearly unconstitutional suspension of Second Amendment rights,” SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said in a statement. “No governor has the authority to arbitrarily deny constitutional rights, especially on the flimsy argument this is a public health emergency.”
“We are ecstatic that Judge Urias agreed with us that Governor Grisham simply can’t trash the Constitution whenever she sees fit,” Eric Pratt, GOA vice president, said in a statement.
Adam Kraut, SAF’s executive director, said the ruling comes as no surprise given the overwhelming nature of the backlash to it.
“The order was so patently unconstitutional, even gun control advocates have been distancing themselves from her actions,” he said. “We look forward to prevailing in this case as it continues.”
After the ban was announced, California Congressman Ted Lieu (D.) and March For Our Lives co-founder David Hogg posted tweets saying, “There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.” Giffords Senior Advisor Ryan Busse also labeled the ban a “bad idea.”
“Will not solve anything, may make things worse,” he tweeted. “Is the sort of knee-jerk that only fosters distrust.”
Six New Mexican Democrats also wrote a letter decrying the order and asking her to rescind it on Tuesday.
“We concur with law enforcement leaders that these executive orders violate law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights and would require law enforcement officers to infringe upon these rights, which could expose officers, police agencies, and communities to civil litigation,” the Democrats said in the letter. “We agree that the Governor does not have the authority to disregard both the New Mexico Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and to create law without action from the New Mexico Legislature.”
Attorney General Raúl Torrez (D.) then refused to defend the order in court because he said he doesn’t believe “it passes constitutional muster.” Numerous local law enforcement officials also refused to enforce the ban, even as New Mexicans openly defied it with an armed rally over the weekend.
“APD is not responsible for enforcing the governor’s ban, our officers will continue to enforce all criminal laws, combat gun violence, and push for needed justice in our city,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (D.) said on Friday.
“[A]s the elected Sheriff, I have reservations regarding this order,” Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said in a statement. “While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold. I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”
The Grisham-appointed Bernalillo County District Attorney also said her order violates the Second Amendment.
“As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional,” Bregman, an Albuquerque prosecutor, told the Associated Press on Friday. “This office will continue to focus on criminals of any age that use guns in the commission of a crime.”
A hearing on a more permanent preliminary injunction will be held once the TRO expires on October 3rd.