New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in response to a spate of gun violence — and critics called for her immediate arrest.
Asked about her oath to the Constitution, Lujan Grisham said, “If there’s an emergency and I’ve declared an emergency for a temporary amount of time, I can invoke additional powers. No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute. There are restrictions on free speech. There are restrictions on my freedoms.”
The Democratic governor said she was expecting legal challenges… but she probably wasn’t expecting the calls for her to be jailed.
Charles C. W. Cooke, a conservative commentator, pointed out that Lujan Grisham’s words could be used to justify a citizen’s arrest.
“Okay, then. So why not arrest her?… It would be as legitimate and legal as her decision to ‘suspend’ certain gun rights in her state — which is to say not at all,” Cooke wrote Monday in National Review. “The obvious rejoinder to this suggestion is “the law.” But, as she has made perfectly clear, Lujan Grisham doesn’t believe in all that nonsense.”
The National Review writer concluded, “She, too, can be subjected to the arbitrary framework she has contrived for everyone else.”
The writer argued that Lujan Grisham’s words could be used to justify not only a citizen’s arrest, but also other kinds of overreach.
“Arrest her — without a warrant and without cause. Put her in prison for 30 days without a trial. Raise her taxes to 100 percent without an appropriations bill. Take her property without reimbursement. Quarter some troops in her home. Impose an excessive fine,” Cooke wrote. “And, for good measure, prevent her from complaining about it by imposing a monthlong gag order — to be lifted once this emergency has gone.”
Not to worry! Lujan Grisham can take her objections to court, or she could wait out the “emergency.”
“And if that’s a problem? Then she can take it to the courts. By design, her approach has been to restrict first and litigate later. Surely, she too must live under that rule,” Cooke wrote. “Once the necessary actions have been taken, she can file an objection. In the meantime, though, it will stand. It’s regrettable, but there’s no choice. Something must be done, and this is something. That’s how emergencies work. Right? Wrong.”
Lujan Grisham looks very unlikely to be arrested despite Cooke’s suggestion.
However, the governor may see her plan fall apart in court. The National Association for Gun Rights, along with one Albuquerque member, sued on Saturday. They’ve asked the court to block the governor’s order immediately.
Already, local authorities — including Democrats — are refusing to enforce the governor’s new rule.
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, who once served as a Democratic party leader and was appointed by Lujan Grisham, on Saturday joined Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina saying they wouldn’t enforce the order.
“As an officer of the court, I cannot and will not enforce something that is clearly unconstitutional,” said Bregman, the top prosecutor in the Albuquerque area. “This office will continue to focus on criminals of any age that use guns in the commission of a crime.”
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he was uneasy about how gun owners might respond.
“I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts,” Allen said, “as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”
Democrats in Washington, D.C., also voiced skepticism. “I support gun safety laws. However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution. No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution. There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted Saturday.
The 3 foods that GROW cancer [Sponsored]
The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, from city sidewalks to urban recreational parks. The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by metropolitan Albuquerque. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.
“No person, other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer, shall possess a firearm … either openly or concealed,” the governor’s order states.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.