Days after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health emergency that, in part, bans firearms in public—both openly carried and concealed—a few hundred armed protestors descended on the plaza in Old Town Albuquerque. The protest, where uniformed law enforcement was notably absent, was the first of many expected later this week over the governor’s order, which stands for at least 30 days and only applies to Bernalillo County
The lack of visible State Police on sight also meant no citations, even though the governor herself said during a news conference last week that those who violate the order could face a civil infraction. Some of those in attendance scoffed at the notion of a civil penalty for carrying a gun in public and said it was a signal of political grandstanding by Lujan Grisham. But the governor’s office assures The Paper. those citations are coming.
Eric Knight, a retired Albuquerque firefighter, echoed what many have posited since the governor’s order: That Lujan Grisham is overstepping her authority and ignoring both the state and U.S. Constitution.
“It’s way overreaching,” Knight said. “It’s a direct violation of constitutional rights.”
Knight, like most people The Paper. spoke with, noted that nearly everyone on the plaza had a visible gun without being hassled by police.
“Why even do it? Is it just a dog and pony show?” he said.
But Caroline Sweeney, a Lujan Grisham spokeswoman, signaled that future protests might see enforcement.
“The order is being enforced, and citations will be forthcoming from the State Police,” Sweeney wrote in an email to The Paper. “To ensure officer safety, we will not be providing additional details at this time.”
Gabe Baca, a local film actor and business owner who attended Sunday’s protest, said whether or not the public health order has any teeth, he believes the governor is chipping away at the rights of New Mexicans.
“It starts out small, like just a little pebble and then eventually it gets the snowball effect and gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” Baca said while dressed in camouflage and carrying an Israeli assault rifle. “Then we end up as 1942, pre-World War II Poland.”
At least two politicians who represent areas outside Albuquerque also showed up on Sunday afternoon.
Republican Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block was gobsmacked that Lujan Grisham would issue such an order and said it shows “how stupid the the governor is.”
“I don't understand the point of it at all,” Block said. “She knows this is unconstitutional.”
State Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, scoffed at the governor’s order and read a written statement she had folded in her pocket, aimed at Lujan Grisham.
“Newsflash Governor, the Second Amendment is an absolute right, and so is my authority to impeach you for violating your oath to New Mexico and the United States of America and to our Constitution.
Lord swiftly announced her plans to file impeachment documents after Lujan Grisham issued the order last Friday and told The Paper. on Sunday that she had asked legislative legal counsel to start drafting up paperwork aimed at removing Lujan Grisham from office.
A spokesman for Albuquerque Police did not respond to a request for comment, but Police Chief Harold Medina, Mayor Tim Keller, Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman as well as Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen all essentially absolved themselves from enforcing the gun ban portion of Lujan Grisham’s public order.
Lujan Grisham’s order was in response to the increasing number of gun deaths in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Earlier this month an 11-year-old boy was fatally shot outside the Isotopes stadium and Albuquerque Police announced a homicide about 24 hours after the governor announced her order.
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