New Mexico Governor Declares Gun Violence, Drug Abuse a Public Health Emergency


Citing a rising tide of gun violence and drug abuse, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared these issues to be a public health emergency. This announcement follows a series of harrowing shootings, a portion of which involved children.

The plan of action rolled out under the emergency order calls for a temporary suspension of both open and concealed carry laws in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. This mandate restricts the carrying of firearms on public property, albeit with certain exceptions, as expressed in her statement on Friday.

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Governor Lujan Grisham references a trio of child shooting deaths between July and September in the past year, in conjunction with a pair of mass shootings within the state, as impetus for the move.

In her words, Lujan Grisham, of the Democratic party, noted, “The time for standard measures has passed. When New Mexicans are fraught with fear at the idea of congregating in public spaces, of sending their children to school or enjoying a ball game—the point at which the very essence of their existence is continually threatened by the looming prospect of violence—we can no longer deny that something is drastically amiss.”

Per the measures outlined in this plan, valid carry permit holders may continue to possess their firearms on private premises such as shooting ranges and gun shops, provided these weapons are housed in a secured box or have a mechanism in place preventing them from being fired, such as a trigger lock.

In the course of developing this order, Governor Lujan Grisham sought counsel from public safety officials including Bernalillo District Attorney Sam Bregman, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, and former State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.

Further stipulations of the order ban firearms from state property including state facilities, schools, as well as parks and other child-frequented precincts. Additionally, licensed firearms merchants will be subject to monthly inspections by New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Division, with the intent to guarantee adherence to sales and storage legalities. The state health and environmental authorities are also poised to commence screening wastewater systems in schools for contraband substances including fentanyl.

Given the immediacy of the issue, the order is to go into effect at once. This action is in response to two mass shooting incidents that occurred in May, resulting in six fatalities and eleven individuals injured. New Mexico’s rate of gun violence and suicide numbers rank among the nation’s highest.

While recognizing that gun violence has reached a bracing severity, officials in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have expressed qualms about the mandate. Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen has publicized his worry over potential civil liability issues for his deputies, as well potential risks stemming from denying law-abiding citizens their right to self-defense.

There’s also wide dissent among Republicans who oppose the order, with some calling for Governor Lujan Grisham’s impeachment. Beyond state borders, a few national Democrats have suggested that the scope of the order may infringe upon constitutional rights as well.