Federal judge temporarily blocks New Mexico governor’s gun ban

A federal judge in New Mexico issued an order Wednesday blocking Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recent suspension of certain gun rights in Albuquerque and its surrounding county.

U.S. District Judge David Urias held a hearing in the case Wednesday afternoon before issuing his ruling granting a temporary restraining order.

The Democratic governor’s directive sparked at least a half-dozen lawsuits. Opponents have argued that the governor’s 30-day ban on the right to carry open or concealed firearms in public in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County was in violation of the Second Amendment.

Hannah Hill, executive director of the National Foundation for Gun Rights, one of the plaintiffs in the case before the court on Wednesday, said she was “thrilled” that the judge had blocked “the governor’s wildly unconstitutional public health gun ban.”

Lujan Grisham vowed to keep fighting, calling gun violence and drug abuse “acute threats to public health and safety in this state.”

“I refuse to be resigned to the status quo,” she said in a statement after the ruling. “I call on leaders across the state, from local law enforcement to the Legislature to mayors and county commissioners: Stand with me to enact solutions that save people’s lives. Throwing up our hands is not an option.”

Lujan Grisham issued her order on Friday, arguing it was necessary to curb a spike in gun violence and illegal drug use in the area. The announcement last week noted that she was taking the step after the shooting deaths of a 13-year-old girl on July 28, a five-year-old girl on Aug. 14, and an 11-year-old boy on Sept. 6, as well as two mass shootings.

The order sparked bipartisan backlash, with state Attorney General Raúl Torrez, a Democrat, notifying Lujan Grisham in a letter Tuesday that his office would not defend the order in court. “Simply put, I do not believe that the Emergency Order will have any meaningful impact on public safety but, more importantly, I do not believe it passes constitutional muster,” he wrote.

In his ruling from the bench Wednesday, Urias said, “I don’t blame [the governor] for wanting to take action in the face of terrible acts,” The Associated Press reported, adding that the judge said he was faced with a much more narrow question regarding the rights afforded to citizens. The ruling will remain in effect until at least an Oct. 3 hearing in the case, the AP reported.

Lujan Grisham’s order allowed state police to assess civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000 for violators, but Albuquerque’s police chief had refused to enforce the firearms ban.

Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, a Democrat, said Monday he would not enforce the ban.

“This order will not do anything to curb gun violence other than punish law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense,” Allen said at a news conference.

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