N.M. governor declares state of emergency over gun violence

By: - September 8, 2023 9:34 am
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during her 2023 State of the State before the joint chambers of the New Mexico Legislature in Santa Fe. A large plaque that is the symbol for the state of New Mexico is behind her. Several people are also seated behind the governor. A bouquet of flowers sits to her left.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham delivers the 2023 State of the State before lawmakers in Santa Fe on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order saying gun violence in the state “constitutes a statewide public health emergency of unknown duration.”

The order issued on Sept. 8 encourages local mayors and sheriff’s offices to ask for “an emergency proclamation and implementation of temporary additional restrictions” under the state Riot Control Act.

“To my fellow citizens: get loud. Step up. Demand change: from your neighbors, from your friends, from your communities, from your elected leaders,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “Enough is enough.”

This state law gives the governor numerous emergency powers, including the ability to outlaw the possession of firearms or any other deadly weapon outside someone’s home or business, except for police.

There were at least 2,090 shootings in New Mexico between 2014 and 2022, killing 1,323 people and injuring 1,280, according to data collected from media, police, and other sources by the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.

The governor’s order also invokes the Public Health Emergency Response Act and the All Hazard Emergency Management Act. It directs the state departments of health, homeland security and public safety to coordinate with her office “to provide an effective and coordinated response.”

The order sets aside $750,000 for the state agencies “to avoid and minimize economic or physical harm and to protect the public health, safety and welfare.”

According to the governor’s office, since June 2022 Lujan Grisham sent four letters to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the federal government to send police to New Mexico “to assist in stemming the tide of violent crime.”

“Allocating additional federal resources to New Mexico would not only benefit our State but also the region and the entire country, cutting off vast criminal networks at their source,” Lujan Grisham wrote in the most recent letter to Garland and the White House on Thursday.

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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.