Bernalillo County, New Mexico, has found itself at the heart of a raging debate over gun rights. With Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order banning the open and concealed carrying of firearms in Albuquerque, the argument over the best methods for combatting gun violence has jumped back into the national spotlight.
At the center of the story is Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, who held a press conference on Monday in which he unequivocally declared that he would not be enforcing the governor’s order and called for a special session to create real solutions to the city’s problems with gun violence.
While addressing reporters, Sheriff Allen argued that Lujan Grisham’s “temporary ban challenges the foundations of our Constitution.”
My job is to keep the peace and to make sure that the citizens of Bernalillo County are safe. And I do not believe that this order will help me do so. I’m a law enforcement professional. This order will not do anything to curb gun violence other than punish law abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense.
The sheriff then related a personal story involving his nephew, who became a victim of gun violence recently.
Let me give you a personal story. Last week, as I’m sitting here as the sitting sheriff, I get a phone call that my brother also was a victim of gun violence last week, that many of you do not know, while he and my nephew were sitting in their car, they were shot at and their vehicle was impacted by numerous rounds. How can I, as a sheriff, tell him to put his firearms away and not be able to protect himself?
I have a fact for you. Criminals do not follow the law or a public health order. Never seen it. We will never see criminals follow the law. Once again, this only punishes law abiding citizens. What I also want to address is what we’re doing on the gun violence here in Bernalillo County and helping in the state of New Mexico.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen refuses to enforce Gov. Lujan Grisham’s order banning the carrying of guns in Albuquerque.
“I’m a law enforcement professional. This order will not do anything to curb gun violence other than punish law abiding citizens from their… pic.twitter.com/oUxmdgniMh
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The official then called for the state legislature to convene a special session to deal with crime rates. “I am respectfully requesting, as an elected official, to please consider a special session to specifically address crime, not just in Bernalillo County, but for the state of New Mexico,” he said. “We need to look at solutions to address violent crimes involving juveniles with firearms, adults with firearms, pretrial release, harsh state penalties for violent crimes which also involve a firearm.”
Sheriff Allen also explained that his office would be collaborating with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and the leadership of local and state police, along with the FBI and U.S. attorney “to curb gun violence and so many other crimes that we see in Bernalillo County.”
On Saturday, over 100 people gathered together to peacefully protest the governor’s order. In a show of defiance, they carried rifles and handguns to express their support for the Second Amendment. State lawmakers have called for the governor’s impeachment over the matter. Allen’s comments come after several gun rights groups have filed lawsuits against Gov. Lujan Grisham to overturn the “emergency” order. It is not expected to survive the expected wave of court challenges.