Tuesday, March 19, 2024

New Mexico's Attempt to Ban Concealed Guns in Parks Hits Judicial Roadblock

(AP Photo/Morgan Lee)
The effort by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to enforce a ban on lawful concealed carry in public parks within Albuquerque and Bernalillo County encountered a significant obstacle. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declined her appeal to pause a lower court’s injunction that prevented the imposition of civil penalties on licensed concealed carriers found with firearms in these parks. Initially, Governor Grisham sought a broader ban across Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, which was quickly overturned by a federal judge. The governor then narrowed the scope of her order to restrict concealed carry specifically in parks and playgrounds. However, a district court judge further scaled back this order by upholding the injunction against the park ban while permitting the playground prohibition to remain.

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Governor Grisham, in her appeal to the Tenth Circuit, argued that the history of gun ownership in the United States supported restrictions on carrying firearms in public parks, citing numerous 19th and early 20th-century laws. This stance, however, contradicts the Supreme Court’s interpretation in the Bruen case, which highlighted the limited nature of “sensitive places” historically exempt from gun carry rights and warned against expansive “gun-free zones.”

The Tenth Circuit’s refusal to stay the injunction suggests skepticism towards the constitutional validity of the park carry ban, though a detailed opinion has yet to be released. When District Judge Kea W. Riggs initially granted the partial injunction, she noted the state’s failure to provide historical justification for such a ban. This stance was maintained upon appeal, with Judge Riggs reaffirming the lack of historical precedent for extensive firearm regulations in public parks as argued by the state.

This development signals promising news for Second Amendment supporters and represents a significant blow to Governor Grisham’s efforts to impose stricter gun control measures through public health orders. Although the legal battle continues, the rejection of the governor’s request by the appellate court marks a critical moment in the ongoing challenge to New Mexico’s proposed firearm restrictions.

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