ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Luke Saiz of Albuquerque, New Mexico, carries several firearms in his vehicle for personal safety, despite knowing he could face a stiff fine of up to $5,000 under a public health order by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
"Today, yeah, I carry a bunch of different ones," Mr. Saiz said, sporting glasses, a long beard, and hair tucked under a camouflage cap while holstering a Glock 9 mm handgun by his waist.
He said it's his constitutional right to have these weapons despite the governor's order that suspended the right to carry firearms in public for 30 days last week in response to three shooting deaths involving children since July.
The governor said the deaths represent a public health emergency, which she said gives her the authority to act unilaterally as governor.
Ms. Grisham added that she would violate her oath of office to reduce "gun violence" in New Mexico.
She told media, “No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute.”
The Epoch Times reached out to Ms. Grisham's office for comment but received none by press time.
The public health order took effect on Sept. 8 in Bernalillo County, population 674,393, which includes the state's largest city, Albuquerque.
"I think it's unconscionable," Mr. Saiz, a staunch Republican, said of the governor's executive order.
Even so, he said he was "pleasantly surprised" to see that Democrats are coming out against her decision.
Sheriff, Attorney General Will 'Not Comply'Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen has publicly declared the governor's order an "unconstitutional" act and refused to enforce it.
At least two Republican lawmakers in New Mexico have called for the governor to be impeached.
On Sept. 12, New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez, a Democrat, announced he wouldn't defend the governor against four lawsuits challenging her executive order.
"Though I recognize my statutory obligation as New Mexico's chief legal officer to defend state officials when they are sued in their official capacity," Mr. Torres wrote in the four-page letter to the governor, "my duty to uphold and defend the constitutional rights of every citizen takes precedence."
"Simply put, I do not believe that the Emergency Order will have any meaningful impact on public safety, but, more importantly, I do not believe it passed constitutional muster."
Firearms owner Robert Herrera of Albuquerque said he thinks the governor's public health order is an overreach of her authority that has little to do with public health or safety.
"She needs to bring back the death penalty. When they kill a small child or a police officer—bring back the death penalty and get rid of those types of people," Mr. Herrera told The Epoch Times.
"She's trying to use this and the pandemic together. They're two different things."
According to a statement from the governor's office, the executive order includes an action plan declaring illegal drugs a public health emergency.
"The action plan includes a suspension of open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County, temporarily prohibiting the carrying of guns on public property with certain exceptions," the statement reads.
"Exceptions include for licensed security guards and law enforcement officers. Citizens with permits to carry firearms are free to possess their weapons on private property (such as at a gun range or gun store), provided they transport the firearm in a locked box, use a trigger lock, or some other mechanism that renders the gun incapable of being fired."
Licensed firearm owners could face a fine of up to $5,000 per violation of the public health order.
The governor's executive order authorizes the Bernalillo County Regulation and Licensing Division to do monthly inspections of licensed firearms dealers to "ensure compliance with all sales and storage laws."
Mark Abramson, proprietor of Los Ranchos Gun Shop in Albuquerque, said the monthly inspections are a concern.
"We don't know what that means because they don't have jurisdiction over us," Mr. Abramson told The Epoch Times.
City Has 'Bigger Problems'"They can come in, but they don't have any right to my books or anything else."
Mr. Abramson said enforcing the order could be a problem without support from the county sheriff.
"Albuquerque has bigger problems," he said. "Frankly, Bernalillo County has bigger problems than enforcing it.
"We all want gun violence to stop. Whether [Gov. Grisham] came up with this on her own, or is it part of a test of the waters is the question. It is the logical extension of those [COVID-19 public emergency] powers in testing how far they go."
"She's got a big problem. I think she gets shut down."
Arnold Gallegos, proprietor of ABQ Guns in Albuquerque and an officer in the Jemez Springs Police Department, said he believes that the governor's executive order is "highly illegal" under the constitution.
"It's a made-up public emergency. There are approximately eight times more people that die from fentanyl overdoses than there are by firearms—within the county, the city, and the state," Mr. Gallegos told The Epoch Times. "But she won't address anything like that because her agenda is to go ahead and disarm the public."
"I don't think anybody is giving her marching orders. She's trying to make a name for herself [politically]. It is a purely political move for her future. It has nothing to do with public safety. It has nothing to do with anything other than her agenda."
Mr. Gallegos said the public backlash could spark defections within the state's powerful Democratic Party, with its predominately progressive ideology.
Mr. Saiz said the governor's executive action looks more like a "trial balloon" and an effort to consolidate more power.
"She is the first canary in the coal mine," he said. "And she is going to be ground up politically for it."