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Commentary: Lujan Restrained

Commentary: Lujan Restrained

On Sept. 8, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a controversial emergency public health order that would prohibit the carrying of concealed or open firearms in Bernalillo county for 30 days. 

This order, which was blocked by a federal judge five days later, could also have extended to any other county in New Mexico under the concept of “emergency powers,” which give governments the ability to use drastic measures as a response to a perceived emergency. 

On Sept. 14, Lujan Grisham amended the order, allowing for open and concealed carry except in public parks or playgrounds.

Controversy has surrounded this decision on a national scale. A significant argument is that this is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment, which states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

The second argument is that this policy is counterintuitive because it takes guns away from law-abiding citizens and leaves criminals as the only people to possess a firearm. Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen pointed out “the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.” 

However, this does not mean that Grisham’s policy is unwarranted. She has stated that “the rate of gun deaths in New Mexico increased 43% from 2009 to 2018.” It should also been noted that 63% of all fire-arm related deaths in 2020 New Mexico were suicide. This doesn’t downplay that roughly 150 died from homicide by firearm in 2020, according to a report published by the New Mexico Legislature.

In response to the emergency act, District Judge Davis Uriah put a restraining order on Lujan Grisham that would temporarily overturn her new policy. She will go to the New Mexico Supreme Court on Oct. 3, where she will defend her public health order.

Some lawmakers have been calling to impeach Governor Lujan. Lujan said this in her defense: “I have emergency powers, Gun violence is an epidemic. Therefore, it’s an emergency.” As of Sept. 29, this law is still overturned.

All of this drama can have deep effects on interpreting the Bill of Rights. Laws are often bent ever so slightly, and politicians might take a loose interpretation of the Bill of Rights just a bit. However, Lujan’s new policy is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment. This raises an important question: “How relevant is the Bill of Rights, and how powerful are politicians really?”

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