Federal Court Blocks N.M. Governor’s 30-Day Ban on Gun Carrying in Albuquerque Area

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In Wednesday’s Nat’l Ass’n for Gun Rights [and companion cases] v. Grisham, Judge David Herrera Urias (D.N.M.) issued a temporary restraining order blocking the ban. The court’s reasoning was simple: In Bruen, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment generally protects a right to carry arms in most public places, and the Governor’s order violates that. The court added:

Although the State of New Mexico raises important safety concerns, at this stage it fails to demonstrate that the public safety concerns overcome the public’s interest in preventing constitutional violations. At a fuller hearing on Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, the State of New Mexico may present more detailed information about how public safety strongly weighs against issuing a preliminary injunction because of the dangers and safety concerns associated with firearms. However, given Bruen‘s clarity that “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” the Court concludes that issuing a TRO to prevent the violation of a constitutional right would be in the public interest.

The preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3, shortly before the order expires on its own terms on Oct. 6.

The court didn’t discuss the New Mexico Constitution’s right-to-bear-arms provision (“No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.”). It also didn’t discuss whether the Governor had the authority to issue such an emergency declaration under state law, even apart from the right to bear arms. But this, I think, stems from the fact that the case was brought in federal court, and federal courts generally can’t order state governors to follow state law (and the briefing in the cases has largely followed that principle).

Note that the Firearms Policy Coalition, for which I occasionally consult, was one of the parties in one of the cases decided by this opinion; but I was not involved in litigating the case.

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