It appears the Left may no longer feel the need to cloak its gun control measures with even a pretense of legal imprimatur. In their zeal to restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm for personal protection, some top Democrat public officials now are mandating new gun control policies without even a fig leaf of constitutional legitimacy.
Late last week, for example, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Administration declared that no person, other than police or licensed security officers, could lawfully possess a firearm anywhere in public within the state’s largest city – Albuquerque – or in the surrounding county – Bernalillo. This blanket restriction applied also to “state property” located anywhere within New Mexico’s 121,591 square mile jurisdiction. The precise extent of “state property,” other than schools and parks, is left undefined.
Unlike recent gun control policies announced by governors of other Democrat-led states such as New York’s Kathy Hochul, which have been at least presented as responses to last year’s Second Amendment-affirming Bruen decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, and clothed with a façade of legal respectability, Lujan Grisham’s action offered no such pretense.
Her Administration’s new draconian measures – already being challenged in federal court – have been presented as an “action plan” to “do more” to stop criminal gun violence and rampant illicit drug usage plaguing the state. To Lujan Grisham, blatantly imposing her anti-gun will on the citizens over whom she maintains colorable power, is an appropriate (if nonsensical) way to spur a “debate” about gun control.
The announced premises on which these highly restrictive measures are based is a pair of executive orders signed by Lujan Grisham last Thursday and Friday, declaring that “drug abuse” and “gun violence” are “emergencies” of such magnitude and urgency that the Second Amendment guarantee protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms for self-defense, is of secondary importance (if that).
While the actual language in each of the Governor’s two executive orders declaring drug abuse and gun violence to constitute “emergencies” would appear to limit their reach only to October 6, 2023, in the very same documents both of the “emergencies” are deemed to be of “unknown duration”; in other words, indefinite.
Adding to this concern, the September 8th “Public Health Emergency Order” setting forth the actual restrictions on firearms possession by New Mexico citizens, explicitly would not expire on October 6th, but would “remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergencies declared in Executive Orders 2023-130 (“gun violence”) and 2023-132 (“drug abuse”).
By cleverly having New Mexico Secretary of Health Patrick Allen issue the operative and restrictive “action plan,” rather than include such onerous provisions in her own, more general “executive orders,” Lujan Grisham may be attempting to insert additional vagueness into the just-announced gun control policy, and also to try and insulate herself from legal accountability.
The bottom line in all this, however, is that we have a Governor who is so clueless about how the real world operates, that she has concluded the best way “to drastically reduce the number of violent incidents and fentanyl-related deaths in New Mexico,” is to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, their families, and their communities against gun violence and drug traffickers.
It would be bad enough for the citizens of New Mexico were it only their Governor’s lack of common sense in such regard that impacts them. After all, her announced measures reflect a frame of mind that has manifested itself for decades in policies proposed and implemented by the gun control movement.
Sadly, that lack of common sense exhibited by Lujan Grisham and her minions now is made far worse because it is buttressed by the notion that “inherent constitutional police power” is an appropriate tool by which to take away a constitutionally guaranteed right of the citizenry.
The co-president of New Mexico’s organization designed “to Prevent Gun Violence,” Miranda Viscoli, echoed such perspective, concluding that if voiding an explicit state and federal constitutional guarantee “saves [but] one life,” it is an acceptable price to pay.
In this warped world view, no individual liberty could ever be considered safe from the degree of vacuity and constitutional disdain now being exhibited by gun control zealots such as Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.