Using government 'emergencies' to obstruct our rights
The argument that gun control affects only law-abiding citizens has been at the core of debate for over 100 years.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham‘s recent action inadvertently proved it true. When asked, “Do you really think that criminals are going to hear this message and not carry a gun in Albuquerque, on the streets, for 30 days?” the governor quickly replied, “Uh, no, but here’s what I do think: It’s a pretty resounding message!”
The governor’s Executive Order 2023-130 declaring a public health emergency due to gun violence, issued last Thursday, is an egregious violation of constitutional rights.
Following the lead of the Biden administration, which declared a gun violence public health epidemic in April 2021, the New Mexico Democrat relied on subordinate departments to circumvent the legislative branch as well as both the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article II, Section 6 of the New Mexico Constitution.
Empowered by the declaration of a public health emergency, Patrick Allen, New Mexico’s secretary of health, issued a public health emergency order, “Imposing Temporary Firearm Restrictions, Drug Monitoring and Other Public Safety Measures.”
Mr. Allen, who was appointed by the governor earlier this year, ordered that “no person, other than a law enforcement officer or licensed security officer, shall possess a firearm … either openly or concealed.”
Although the executive order didn’t list specific areas where carrying guns was banned, the governor later targeted the order toward residents of Bernalillo County and its largest city, Albuquerque.
A cursory investigation of this executive order shows the level at which politicians will go to promote a narrative. As justification for Ms. Lujan Grisham‘s action, the order lists several items intended to justify the need to restrict individual rights under the guise of public health.
The governor starts by stating that the rate of “gun deaths” in New Mexico increased by 43% from 2009 to 2018. While these outdated statistics are coincidentally from when she was not in office, they show a steep rise. Surprisingly, according to the Albuquerque Police Department, the number of homicides from January to June of this year decreased by 7%.
So when there is a decrease in homicides, what else could she use to elicit emotional support? Children? The order states that guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in New Mexico; however, this, too, is a falsehood.
As published by her own Department of Health this past January, the leading cause of death for children reviewed in the findings was “unintentional injury/accidental” at 44.8%, followed by suicide at 27%, with homicide accounting for 11%. Of note, under the unintentional category, the highest percentage of those deaths were motor vehicle-related, followed by asphyxia — accounting for 68% of total juvenile deaths.
With neither the number nor the death of children able to stand alone in justification for such unconstitutional action, she specifically lists the Red River “mass shooting.”
The event occurred at a motorcycle rally in which three members of “outlaw biker gangs” were killed. Knowing that this event would likely garner little empathy, the governor concludes her justification with a remnant of the COVID-19 era.
“The increasing number of gunshot victims strains our already over-burdened healthcare system and places undue pressure on medical professionals and resources,” she said in a written statement.
What Ms. Lujan Grisham doesn’t mention is the poorly enacted regulatory climate created by the state, exorbitant malpractice insurance rates and a failed “gross receipts tax” (sales tax) on medical care. The bottom line is that the health care system is strained because health care professionals are fleeing the state because of mismanagement.
Seeing through the inaccuracies of her justifications, many have begun to question her actions. In a public release, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen stated that “the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold.”
Republican state Reps. Stefani Lord and John Block have called for the impeachment of the governor. In a news release, Ms. Lord stated: “This is an abhorrent attempt at imposing a radical, progressive agenda on an unwilling [populace]. Even Grisham believes this EO won’t prohibit criminals from carrying or using weapons; a basic admission that this will only put New Mexicans in danger as they won’t be able to defend themselves from violent crime.”
Immediately after Ms. Lujan Grisham issued the executive order, New Mexico residents began to question both the legality and effectiveness of her actions.
From the state Legislature to social media, people clearly see her actions as what they truly are — unconstitutional. When questioned, her response was shocking: ”No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute.”
Well, Governor, you are not only wrong, but you certainly don’t sound like someone who is acting in the best interests of her constituents.
Kerry J. Slone is executive director for education at the Crime Prevention Research Center.