New Mexico governor responds to blowback over temporary gun ban

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has defended her decision to enforce a temporary ban on open and concealed firearms in part of her state after facing intense bipartisan backlash. 

Lujan Grisham pushed back on criticism during an interview with “CNN This Morning,” stressing that the state’s growing number of gun-related injuries required “immediate, swift, and bold action.”

“I’m focused on one thing,” Lujan Grisham said. “We have the third highest gun-related injuries in the country. 90 percent higher than the national average. We lost 143 children between 2017 and 2021.”

The emergency order, which includes a 30-day suspension of open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County as well as a ban on the carrying of guns on state property, calls upon state police officers to issue civil penalties to anyone found violating the terms of the order, an offense that is punishable with fines of up to $5,000. 

However, since the ban came into effect Friday, some members of law enforcement have expressed concerns over the impact the new rules could have on local police departments.

“In a couple months or a year down the road, we’re the ones stuck in court and we’re the ones getting sued over all these infringement of rights cases and all these court battles when I could be focusing so much more on crime,” Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen told CNN’s Kaitlin Collins. 

When pressed on whether any officer in Albuquerque or the county had enforced the ban, Grisham said no civil penalties had been issued but maintained this didn’t invalidate the need for ban, nor did it prevent the state from prosecuting violators.

“This is the pushback I get … it doesn’t mean that we don’t have additional police presence,”  Lujan Grisham said. “My question to law enforcement is, ‘Where are you?’” 

Guns rights groups and several lawmakers from both aisles have challenged the constitutionality of the ban, sparking heated debate over whether such an order violates Second Amendment rights. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif) called the ban unconstitutional, while Republican New Mexico state Reps. Stefani Lord and John Block posted a statement to X, formerly known as Twitter, demanding the impeachment of Lujan Grisham.

The New Mexico governor has continued to hit back at these claims, arguing that her priority is keeping her constituents safe.

“Fewer guns on the streets makes everyone safer,” Lujan Grisham said. “I’m focused on everyone’s constitutional rights, not just those the NRA says I should be focused on.”

Tags John Allen Michelle Lujan Grisham Ted Lieu