New Mexico Declares Gun Violence, Drug Abuse as Public Health Emergencies

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Responding to a series of horrendous shootings, some involving children, the government of New Mexico helmed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, has pronounced the dual crises of gun violence and drug abuse as public health emergencies.

To temporarily address this surge of violence, an emergency order suspending open and concealed carry laws across Albuquerque and Bernalillo County has been issued. This places a provisional prohibition on the carrying of firearms on public property, with a few exceptions. These rapid steps have been fortified by the Governor’s somber reference to the tragic shooting deaths of three children spanning July through September, alongside two mass shootings within the state.

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“It’s beyond the era of lukewarm measures. When New Mexicans live in terror of crowds, worried about the safety of their children at school, in fear at a baseball game, it indicates a severe societal issue,” lamented Governor Lujan Grisham.

In accordance with the new mandate, citizens holding carry permits still have the privilege to keep their weapons on private property like gun stores and ranges. These firearms must be transported in a securely locked box or have mechanisms like a trigger lock installed to ensure it is incapable of firing.

This decree came to fruition after intense consultations with public safety officials. Some of the participants included Bernalillo District Attorney Sam Bregman, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, State Police Chief Pete Kassetas, and Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina.

State properties including schools, administrative buildings, parks, and other places frequented by children are now firearm-free zones. To ensure adherence to sales and storage laws, the state’s Regulation and Licensing Division will inspect licensed firearm dealers monthly. Furthermore, wastewater testing at schools for illegal substances like fentanyl will be undertaken by the state health and environmental officials.

The emergency order takes immediate effect, as per the Governor’s announcement. The state, which has one of the highest rates of gun violence and suicide in the country, witnessed two mass shootings in May alone that resulted in six deaths and eleven severe injuries.

While the law enforcement of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County acknowledge the severity of gun violence, they have expressed concerns about the order. Sheriff John Allen called the temporary ban a challenge to the constitutional oath he took, as he feared the complications of depriving citizens of their right to self-defense and potential civil liability conflicts it could lead to.

Echoing these sentiments, Police Chief Medina indicated their detachment from the order implementation and stated that the state law enforcement would be responsible for the enforcement of civil violations of the order.

The edict elicited strong denouncement from Republicans, including state Representatives Stefani Lord and John Block, who demanded the Governor’s impeachment. National Democrats showed unease about the order’s reach, with California Democratic Representative Ted Lieu saying that it violated the constitution.

Governor Grisham, it seems, is in the eye of a storm, with her drastic measures meeting with fierce opposition and reluctant support all at once.