New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a plan Friday to temporarily ban the carrying of firearms in public areas and on government property in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County surrounding it amid an increase in gun violence. File Photo by Sam Wasson/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 10 (UPI) -- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a plan Friday to temporarily ban the carrying of firearms in public areas and on government property in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County surrounding it amid an increase in gun violence.
"The time for standard measures has passed," Lujan Grisham said in a statement announcing the new measures.
Lujan Grisham noted that two mass shootings this year and the recent shooting deaths of three children -- a 13-year-old girl on July 28, a 5-year-old girl on Aug. 14 and an 11-year-old boy on Sept. 6 -- had spurred the decision.
"Temporary firearm restrictions, drug monitoring, and other public safety measures are necessary to address the current public health emergencies," Health Secretary Patrick Allen said in the executive order, enforcing the ban.
Allen added that the New Mexico Health Department has the legal authority to maintain and enforce rules for the control of a condition of public health importance.
The ban makes exceptions for law enforcement and licensed security officers and does not apply to private property or on the premises of a licensed gun dealer or gunsmith for lawful transfer or repair.
Gun owners are also allowed to travel with their weapons to such locations, as well as gun ranges, with the firearm in a locked container or a safety device, like a trigger lock, that makes them inoperable.
The state said free trigger locks are available to gun owners who need them.
Within 20 days, the New Mexico Health Department will compile a report on gunshot victims presenting at hospitals in the site and demographic data.
Lujan Grisham said that the public health order also targets a rising fentanyl epidemic in the state, and that the Health Department with the Environment Department will begin testing wastewater at schools for fentanyl and other drugs.
Those who violate the order can face fines up to $5,000, according to The New York Times.
However, the National Association for Gun Rights has already filed a legal challenge in court seeking to stop the ban from taking effect.
NAGR claims the order violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and cited a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court last year that found a New York law restricting the carrying of guns was unconstitutional.
Numerous other gun rights lobbyists, like the National Rifle Association, have also announced plans to file lawsuits against the state.
"I have emergency powers," Lujan Grisham told The New York Times. "Gun violence is an epidemic. Therefore, it's an emergency."