Sen. Martin Heinrich, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, all Democrats from New Mexico.
Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images; AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
New Mexico’s governor temporarily suspended the right to carry guns in public in Albuquerque.
Most lawmakers from the state, all Democrats, carefully sought to distance themselves from the order.
Most also indicated that they were not notified about the plan ahead of time.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has banned most people from publicly carrying guns in Albuquerque for 30 days — a decision that apparently caught New Mexico’s federal lawmakers off guard.
“I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people were taken by surprise,” said US Sen. Martin Heinrich, currently the state’s longest-serving member of Congress.
Heinrich, along with Reps. Teresa Leger Fernandez and Gabe Vasquez confirmed to Insider that they were not notified about what the governor would do before she issued a public health order declaring gun violence a “public health emergency.”
And most of the state’s delegation, all of whom are Democrats, offered careful criticism of the governor’s decision — noting that they take the issue of gun violence seriously, but that issuing an executive order may not be the best approach.
“What we should be doing is working with law enforcement in ways that they clearly feel like they can implement,” said Heinrich, who suggested in a statement that the order is unconstitutional and too difficult to enforce.
Leger Fernandez, who represents broad swaths of rural New Mexico in the northern and eastern parts of the state, indicated that she preferred a legislative solution to gun violence.
“I think that’s the most appropriate time to do this kind of work,” she said.
Vasquez, a more vulnerable Democrat who represents rural southern New Mexico, also issued a statement calling for solutions to gun violence that “protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
“We have to find all the legal pathways that we possibly can to curb gun violence in our communities,” Vasquez told Insider. “And so I will support the pathways that are constitutional.”
Lujan Grisham’s order forbids anyone besides a police officer or licensed security officer from carrying a firearm in public in “cities or counties averaging 1,000 or more violent crimes per 100,000 resident per year since 2021.”
In practice, the order applies only to Albuquerque — the state’s largest city — and the county surrounding it.
From left: New Mexico Reps. Melanie Stansbury, Gabe Vasquez, and Teresa Ledger Fernandez.
Caroline Brehman and Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Lujan Grisham issued the order after an 11-year-old boy, Froylan Villegas, was fatally shot on Wednesday night after a baseball game in Albuquerque.
“The time for standard measures has passed,” the governor said on Friday. “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.”
Rep. Melanie Stansbury, whose district includes most of Albuquerque, was the lone lawmaker to express some level of support for the order.
“We must look at and discuss all possible solutions to make our communities safe,” Stansbury told Insider in a statement. “The governor is taking action and starting a conversation about addressing the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. I agree that we must have these conversations.”
US Sen. Ben Ray Luján declined to endorse or criticize the order when repeatedly pressed by reporters on Tuesday, instead touting his own support for federal gun control legislation while emphasizing the difference between federal and state-level policymaking.
“I’m not the governor of the state of New Mexico, I’m a US senator,” said Luján.
A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The order has drawn national media attention, with even some Democrats and gun control activists criticizing Lujan Grisham’s efforts as unconstitutional. Two Republican state lawmakers have called for the governor’s impeachment, an effort that’s dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
But the governor has held firm in the days since she issued the order, including telling Rep. Ted Lieu of California — one of the Democrats who criticized the order — to take a police academy class in the state.