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Federal Judge Upholds Suspension of Right to Carry Guns in New Mexico Parks and Playgrounds

SANTA FE, N.M. — A federal judge cleared the way Wednesday for enforcement of a public health order that suspends the right to carry guns at public parks and playgrounds in New Mexico’s largest metro area.

The order from U.S. District Judge David Urias rejects a request from gun rights advocates to block temporary firearms restrictions as legal challenges move forward.

It marks a victory for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her advocacy for temporary gun restrictions in response to recent shootings around the state that left children dead.

The standoff is one of many in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year expanding gun rights, as leaders in politically liberal-leaning states explore new avenues for restrictions.

In New Mexico, the attempted restrictions have ignited a furor of public protests, prompted Republican calls for the governor’s impeachment and exposed divisions among top Democratic officials.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, continued to argue this week that some sensitive public spaces should be off limits from open or concealed carry of firearms.

Gun rights advocates have filed an array of lawsuits and court motions aimed at blocking the restrictions in her order, arguing that even a new, scaled-back version would deprive Albuquerque-area residents of 2nd Amendment rights to carry in public for self-defense.

But Urias ruled that plaintiffs had not shown a substantial likelihood of success in court, in denying a request for an injunction.

The governor’s initial order would have suspended gun-carry rights in most public places in the Albuquerque area, while the current version applies only to public parks and playgrounds with an exception that ensures access to a municipal shooting range park. The restrictions were tied to a statistical threshold for violent crime that applies only to Albuquerque and the surrounding area.

State police have authority under the order to assess civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, but the sheriff and Albuquerque’s police chief had refused to enforce it.

The rest of the public health order has remained intact, including directives for monthly inspections of firearms dealers statewide, reports on gunshot victims at New Mexico hospitals, wastewater testing for illicit substances at schools, safe-surrender programs for gun owners who choose to decommission firearms they no longer want and more.

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