Judge upholds temporary gun ban in public parks and playgrounds in Bernalillo County

By: - October 13, 2023 4:30 am

The federal courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Photo by Megan Gleason / Source NM)

For now, no one is allowed to carry a firearm in public parks or playgrounds in New Mexico’s largest metro area, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge David Urias on Wednesday let stand a temporary ban on carrying firearms in public parks and playgrounds in the city of Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County.

Through a public health order, New Mexico state government officials in September temporarily banned carrying guns in most public places. At the request of individual gun owners and Second Amendment advocacy groups, Urias on Sept. 13 blocked the gun ban.

The state on Sept. 15 narrowed the ban to only prohibit guns “in public parks and playgrounds, or other public areas provided for children to play in.” 

The advocacy groups asked the judge to block the narrowed ban, but Urias reserved judgment and extended the restraining order on the government until Oct. 11.

Before he could rule on a new restraining order, the state on Oct. 6 issued a third public health order, this time only restricting guns in public parks and playgrounds, and no longer in “other public areas provided for children to play in.”

The gun groups again asked Urias to block the gun ban, and on Wednesday he denied their request, allowing the temporary ban to remain in effect. The restrictions are set to expire on Nov. 3, unless the government renews the public health order.

In his order, Urias wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized schools and similar locations as “sensitive places” where restrictions on carrying guns can be constitutional. He wrote that playgrounds are very similar to schools, because they are both used by children, a vulnerable group.

“There is no question that the Second Amendment protects the possession and carrying of firearms for self-defense in the home and in public, but, as the Supreme Court has explained, it is not absolute,” Urias wrote.


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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.