More than a hundred people openly carried firearms in an Albuquerque park on Sunday as an act of protest against the governor’s emergency suspension of carry rights.
The protesters carried signs and gave speeches against Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s emergency order banning both open and concealed carry in the city and surrounding county for 30 days. Many of those in attendance also carried firearms, according to multiple videos of the event published by news outlets.
“We’re not here to cause any issues. We’re just here to, you know, express our amendment rights,” a gun owner identified by KOB4 as Derek J. told the news station. “And, you know, we’ll go from there.”
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety did not respond to questions from The Reload on whether anyone was arrested or cited for carrying in defiance of the order. However, KOB4 reported a representative told the channel no citations were given out.
The protest and lack of enforcement signal Governor Grisham’s order may end up doing little more than sending a message. And the flood of lawsuits, with four filed in as many days, combined with the political backlash, especially from other gun-control advocates, indicate it’s a losing message. So much so that even local political allies have refused to get on board with enforcing the ban.
“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 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 Bernalillo County District Attorney, whom Grisham appointed, said the order violates the Constitution.
“As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional,” Bregman, the top prosecutor for Albuquerque, 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.”
Still, Grisham argued the emergency declaration gives her the power to make at least temporary exceptions to constitutional protections.
“No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute,” Governor Grisham said in a press conference.
She said the order was necessary to take “bold” action against gun violence, citing the unsolved September 6th murder of an 11-year-old boy as motivation.
“I’m willing to do anything and everything within a shred of evidenced-based effort because if you’re not horrified that on any street corner in too many cities in New Mexico, there is somebody with a gun sticking out of their waist or their belt,” Grisham said.
The emergency declaration comes as Albuquerque, along with most of the country, is seeing murders decline. As of June, the Albuquerque Police Department reported 51 murders compared to 65 through the same period in 2022. That’s a 21 percent decrease.
The department found there was an increase in some offenses, including an 18 percent jump in weapons offenses. However, it also reported a decline in larceny, burglary, robbery, and car theft.
Regarldess, many at the protests felt the order was unlawful in spite of whatever reasoning the Governor
“My jaw dropped for a Second Amendment to be suspended,” Derek J. told KOB4. “It’s unconstitutional”
“This will not stand,” video shows another protester said to cheers from the crowd. “We will not comply!”