By MORGAN LEE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday narrowed an order that broadly suspended the right to carry firearms in and around Albuquerque to apply only to public parks and playgrounds where children and their families gather.
The governor’s announcement came days after a federal judge blocked part of the order with criticism mounting over the Democratic governor’s action and legal challenges by gun-rights advocates.
Gunfire and violent crime in Albuquerque have continued unabated in the week since Lujan Grisham issued the temporary public health order, she said at a press conference Friday, adding that she will continue to pursue a “framework that will pass legal muster” to rein in gun violence.
“Last night, we saw violent crime move through the city that resulted in a gun injury, two car hijackings and a kidnaping with suspects not yet in custody,” said Lujan Grisham, appearing in Albuquerque alongside leading Democratic state legislators and her administration’s secretary of public safety. “We have a very serious situation in our communities that requires serious, immediate results.”
She said the temporary order now “is amended to be focused now (on) no open or concealed carry in public parks or playgrounds, where we know we’ve got high risk of kids and families.”
U.S. District Judge David Urias said Wednesday that the governor’s original order was unconstitutional and granted a temporary restraining order to block the suspension of gun rights until another hearing is held in early October.
Earlier in the week, scores of demonstrators defiantly wore holstered handguns on their hips or carried rifles during a rally by gun-rights advocates.
The second-term governor imposed the emergency public health order Sept. 8 that suspended the right to openly carry or conceal guns in public places based on a statistical threshold for violent crime in Albuquerque and the surrounding area. She cited recent shootings around the state that left children dead, saying something needed to be done.
Republican lawmakers threatened impeachment proceedings and even some influential Democrats and civil rights leaders warned that the move could do more harm than good to overall efforts to ease gun violence.
State Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced he could not defend the 30-day prohibition against carrying firearms in and around Albuquerque, widening the divide between the state’s top-ranked elected Democrats.
Lujan Grisham said Friday that legal proceedings affirmed her calls for urgent action to stem gun violence.
“There was no disagreement in that courtroom that gun violence is a problem,” she said.
The local Catholic archbishop has been among the few joining longtime gun-control advocates in support of the order.
New Mexico is an open carry state, so the governor’s order affects anyone in Bernalillo County who can legally own a gun, with some exceptions. Bernalillo is the state’s most populous county and home to Albuquerque.