SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is defending her decision to address gun violence as a public health crisis, despite facing opposition. She presented statistics on recent firearms seizures, reduced reports of gunfire in the Albuquerque metro area, and an increase in jail bookings as evidence of the issue. However, a court ruling is pending on her effort to suspend gun-carry rights in public parks and playgrounds.
Last week, the governor extended an emergency public health order on gun violence for an additional 30 days. However, a federal judge has temporarily blocked provisions that suspended the right to carry guns in certain areas. The judge will make a ruling on whether to permanently block the restrictions while court challenges are resolved.
At a news conference, Governor Lujan Grisham was joined by several Cabinet secretaries responsible for public safety, corrections, child welfare services, public health, and environmental protection. They unveiled a new website dashboard that displays statistics related to gun violence in the Albuquerque area. The governor emphasized that certain efforts to combat gun violence and drugs would not be possible without the emergency orders, such as expanded behavior health services and funding for drug testing at schools.
Governor Lujan Grisham expressed her determination to address gun violence as an epidemic and a public health emergency. She acknowledged the criticism and backlash from opponents who argue that her gun restrictions infringe on constitutional rights. However, she believes that exploring gun-free “safe spaces” is necessary to keep New Mexicans safe.
The governor’s proposed gun restrictions are now moving to the courts for review. This standoff is a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that expanded gun rights, causing leaders in politically liberal-leaning states to seek new avenues for restrictions.
In addition to the proposed restrictions, the emergency orders include monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide, reports on gunshot victims at New Mexico hospitals, and voluntary gun-buyback programs. The Corrections Secretary also mentioned that they are taking custody of high-maintenance inmates to free up staff to address violent crime in the area.
Furthermore, the Environment Department plans to implement a wastewater testing program to identify which opioids, including fentanyl, are present at public schools. This information will inform the state’s response to the drug crisis.
Governor Lujan Grisham has scaled back the initial gun restrictions in the emergency order. The order no longer applies to most public places, and specific gun restrictions are tied to a statistical threshold for violent crime that only applies to Albuquerque and the surrounding area. State police have been granted authority to impose civil penalties and fines for infractions.
Despite opposition and legal challenges, Governor Lujan Grisham remains committed to treating gun violence as a public health crisis and aims to create a safer environment for the people of New Mexico.