U.S. judge upholds suspension of right to carry guns in some New Mexico parks

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Wednesday ruled as valid a temporary suspension by the governor of New Mexico of the right to carry guns in parks and playgrounds in parts of the state, court records show, in a victory for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

U.S. District Court Judge David Herrera Urias declined to block the governor’s heavily criticized temporary suspension, saying the government has an interest in protecting a vulnerable population, “such as children” in “sensitive places” such as playgrounds.

He ruled the motion for a preliminary injunction of the order was denied.

Lujan Grisham in September initially issued a blanket suspension on the right to carry guns in Albuquerque, the state’s largest city and surrounding Bernalillo County, framing it as a public health response to deaths of children in gun violence, including the killing of an 11-year-old boy in a road rage incident.

Amid fury from gun advocates and a ruling from Judge Urias, her original order was frozen, and a new, tailored-down version was made to restrict guns at just public parks and playgrounds in the area.

Gun rights groups and some gunowners still filed lawsuits seeking to overturn that scaled-back version which they said would deprive Albuquerque-area residents of 2nd Amendment rights to carry guns in public.

A spokesperson for the governor did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the ruling.

The Democratic governor had previously said: “I’m going to continue pushing to make sure that all of us are using every resource available to put an end to this public health emergency with the urgency it deserves.”

Last month, Albuquerque’s mayor Tim Keller urged Lujan Grisham to call a special session of the state legislature on gun violence.

But Lujan Grisham said she had no plan to call a special session as she believed her public health order, which includes measures on drugs and juvenile offenders, would at this time achieve more than new legislation.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Miral Fahmy)