In a shocking and largely unprecedented move, New Mexico Gov. Michell Lujan Grisham “suspended” gun rights on Friday, citing an emergency declaration for “gun violence” she had signed the day prior.
The move immediately overrode duly passed open and concealed carry laws in Albuquerque, the state’s largest city. According to Grisham, she will review the order every 30 days and make a decision on extending it. Under the order, other cities within New Mexico could also see their gun rights stripped depending on their levels of violent crime.
When pressed on the legality of the situation, Grisham responded by saying that her oath to the Constitution is “not absolute.”
After suspending the right to carry firearms, New Mexico’s Governor just said her duty to uphold her oath to the constitution is “not absolute” pic.twitter.com/wY3xSwIUIs
— John Hasson (@SonofHas) September 9, 2023
REPORTER: You took an oath to the Constitution. Isn’t it unconstitutional to say you can not exercise your carry license?
GRISHAM: With one exception, and that is, if there’s an emergency, and I’ve declared an emergency for a temporary amount of time, I can invoke additional powers. No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is attended to be absolute. There are restrictions on free speech, there are restrictions on my freedoms. In this emergency, this 11-year-old, all these parents who have lost all these children. They deserve my attention to have the debate about whether or not we can create a safer environment.
Throughout the several-minute exchange, Grisham repeatedly asserted that she was trying to “send a message” as a way to start a debate on gun violence. How punishing law-abiding gun owners accomplishes that was not immediately made clear, which again, calls into question her true motives.
Her justification seems to center on the idea that she can exercise total power, including voiding fundamental rights, as long as she declares an emergency. As bad as that sounds, it’s worse when you consider that she appears to know that what she’s doing is illegal. Everything about her explanation is flailing and incoherent. When asked if criminals will stop carrying guns for the next 30 days due to her order, she says “No.”
But while Grisham wants to have a “debate,” she may regret pulling on this string. Jonathan Turley offers a brief example of how this could backfire on Democrats.
…Many will of course celebrate the boldness of Grisham in taking away an individual right under a cleaver measure. It is, however, too cleaver by half. If not found moot at the end of the period, New Mexico could supply a vehicle to curtail future public health rationales.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) September 9, 2023
Like the challenges to state abortion laws that led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this may be yet another far-left overreach that ends up solidifying natural rights in the end, not restricting them. No doubt, legal challenges are being prepared as I type this (and it’s not a coincidence Grisham made her order on a Friday evening), ready to be filed on Monday morning.
The courts should not moot the issue if Grisham lets the order expire, a tactical move she may make in order to soak up accolades without having to see the fight she started through. This needs to be fully adjudicated, leaving no doubt that no governor within the United States has the power to void rights under generic claims of emergency. There’s also the possibility of concealed gun owners who are affected by the order taking civil action and exacting damages. Perhaps that would serve as a deterrent to any other governor who might think about trying the same gambit.
In the end, Grisham came across in her press conference as a petty tyrant who got out over her skis and has no idea what to do now. Unfortunately, because she’s term-limited and New Mexico doesn’t allow the recall of governors, there’s little voters can do. These are the consequences of continuing to elect far-left ideologues with no respect for the Constitution. The only hope is that this leads to a broader, perhaps national-level curtailing of “emergency” health declarations.