New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham woke up Tuesday facing another, and perhaps more serious, federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed late Monday night by the Second Amendment Foundation naming her and three other officials as defendants in a challenge of her suspension of the Second Amendment right to bear arms in Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County.
And there is more. The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms came out swinging with a reminder to New Mexico voters that they “must register to vote, and then make sure they do vote to keep people with ideas like this out of public office.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham, a liberal Democrat, is not up for re-election in 2024, but members of her party are, and CCRKB Chairman Alan Gottlieb had this to say: “Voters can penalize her party with their votes next year, same as Democrats have been penalizing gun owners for decades, for crimes they didn’t commit. This would be karma in its purest form.”
The order, announced by the Governor’s office last week, is causing an uproar, and there is even a call for impeachment from some Republican state lawmakers.
As things stack up now, Lujan Grisham is facing lawsuits filed by the National Association for Gun Rights and a separate action filed by Gun Owners of America and the Gun Owners Foundation, both filed over the weekend. But SAF—joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition and New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, plus Bernalillo County resident Zachary Fort—filed the latest challenge with an additional twist.
While the two weekend complaints named Lujan Grisham and other officials in their “official capacities,” the SAF/FPC complaint sues them individually, as well as in their official capacities. This adds a bit more peril. In addition to the governor, the SAF/FPC lawsuit names Patrick M. Allen, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health; Jason R. Bowie, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, and W. Troy Weisler, chief of the New Mexico State Police as defendants.
The SAF team is represented by attorney Jordon George of Aragon Moss George Jenkins, LLP. The SAF lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham announced the ban on open and concealed carry in Bernalillo County after three children were killed in separate shootings over the past couple of months, calling it a “public health emergency.” She immediately came under criticism, not only from gun rights advocates but also from members of her own party and one prominent gun control advocate.
California Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat, tweeted, “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.”
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. https://t.co/kOhLMtaOl2
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 9, 2023
One-time media darling David Hogg, the now-20-something college grad who rose to prominence in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., chimed in on “X” (formerly Twitter) with a nearly identical comment.
“I support gun safety but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution,” Hogg’s message said.
A message like that coming from someone of Hogg’s background is more than just a strong signal the governor has crossed into a political minefield.
I support gun safety but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution. https://t.co/6GfbOZLc7g
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) September 9, 2023
A press release from the Governor’s office detailed the carry ban: “The action plan includes a suspension of open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County, temporarily prohibiting the carrying of guns on public property with certain exceptions. Exceptions include for licensed security guards and law enforcement officers. Citizens with permits to carry firearms are free to possess their weapons on private property (such as at a gun range or gun store), provided they transport the firearm in a locked box, use a trigger lock, or some other mechanism that renders the gun incapable of being fired.”
CCRKBA’s Gottlieb said in a statement to the media, “There is no way Gov. Lujan Grisham’s order can withstand constitutional scrutiny.”
SAF announced its lawsuit early Tuesday. SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, a practicing attorney, put it bluntly: “Evidently, Gov. Lujan Grisham believes she can disregard the constitution to further her own political views. We’re taking action to stop this unconstitutional exercise of power in its tracks, because it is a flagrant violation of the right of individual citizens to carry firearms in public for personal defense.
“Our motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction will prevent the state from further causing injury to the plaintiffs and other citizens under this unlawful order,” Kraut added.
Meanwhile, CCRKBA Managing Director Andrew Gottlieb explained his group’s strategy: “While we are mindful of calls for the governor’s impeachment, gun owners in the state cannot just sit back and expect that to happen. Gov. Lujan Grisham clearly demonstrated her extremist perspective by stating she does not believe any constitutional right ‘is intended to be absolute.’ This kind of thinking may pass muster in a banana republic, but not in the United States.”
Some conservative observers are openly wondering if this isn’t some sort of “trial balloon” to see just how far Democrats can push their luck with gun control before being stopped by the courts. Other anti-gunners may be trying to distance themselves from the Lujan Grisham carry ban, but it is a certainty they are closely watching how this situation unfolds.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.