New Mexico governor issues order to suspend open and concealed carry of guns in Albuquerque

A close-up picture of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaking.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, shown Aug. 9, on Friday issued an order that suspends for 30 days the open and permitted concealed carry of firearms in Albuquerque.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has issued an emergency order suspending the right to carry firearms in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding county for at least 30 days in the midst of a spate of gun violence.

The Democratic gov-ernor said she is expecting legal challenges but felt compelled to act Friday in response to gun deaths, which include the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball stadium this week.

Lujan Grisham said state police would be responsible for enforcing what amount to civil violations. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said he won’t enforce it, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen said he’s uneasy about it because it raises too many questions about constitutional rights.


The firearms suspension, classified as an emergency public health order, applies to open and concealed carry in most public places, including city sidewalks and urban recreational parks. The restriction is tied to a threshold for violent crime rates currently only met by metropolitan Albuquerque. Police and licensed security guards are exempt from the temporary ban.

Violators could face civil penalties and a fine of up to $5,000, gubernatorial spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said.

Under the order, residents still can transport guns to some private locations, such as a gun range or gun store, provided that the firearm has a trigger lock or some other container or mechanism making it impossible to discharge.

Lujan Grisham acknowledged that not all law enforcement officials were on board with her decision.

The special grand jury in the investigation by the Georgia prosecutor who went on to indict Trump and 18 others had recommended charging many more people, some high-ranking.

Sept. 8, 2023

“I welcome the debate and fight about how to make New Mexicans safer,” she said at a news conference, flanked by leading law enforcement officials, including the district attor-ney for the Albuquerque area.

Allen said in a statement late Friday that he has reservations about the order but is ready to cooperate to tackle gun violence.


“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our Constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Allen said. “I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.”

Enforcing the governor’s order also could put Albuquerque police in a difficult position with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a police reform settlement, police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said.

“All of those are unsettled questions,” he said late Friday.

Lujan Grisham referenced several recent shootings in Albuquerque. Among them was a road-rage shooting Wednesday outside a minor league baseball stadium that killed 11-year-old Froylan Villegas and critically wounded a woman as their vehicle was peppered with bullets while crowds departed an evening game.

Last month, 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego was fatally shot while asleep in a motor home. Four teens entered the mobile home community in two stolen vehicles just before 6 a.m. on Aug. 13 and opened fire on the trailer, according to police. The girl was struck in the head and later died at a hospital.

The governor also cited the August shooting death in Taos County of 13-year-old Amber Archuleta. A 14-year-old boy shot and killed the girl with his father’s gun while they were at his home.

“When New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game — when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn — something is very wrong,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.


The top-ranked Republican in the state Senate denounced the decision to restrict guns in the face of violent crime.

“A child is murdered, the perpetrator is still on the loose, and what does the governor do? She ... targets law-abiding citizens with
an unconstitutional gun order,” said Sen. Greg Baca.

Since 2019, Lujan Grisham has signed a raft of legislation regulating the possession of firearms, including a 2020 “red flag” law that allows police or sheriff’s deputies to ask a court to temporarily take away guns from people who might hurt themselves or others; an extension of background check requirements to nearly all private gun sales; and a ban on firearms possession for people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence.