DANIEL VAUGHAN: New Mexico Governor's Unlawful Gun Law is only the Latest Unconstitutional Power Grab

September 11, 2023

Some weeks, it's like some of the nation's politicians are in a race to see who can come up with the most unconstitutional idea possible. This week, that award goes to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who "issued an emergency order on Friday suspending the right to carry guns in public across Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County for at least 30 days." If you're sitting there thinking, "She can't do that, that's unconstitutional!" You'd be correct — it is. It's also only part of the problem.

It's so unconstitutional even some Democratic politicians and activists are uneasy about this path, saying Grisham has no leg to stand on. So far, the only person openly supporting Grisham's unconstitutional power grab on firearms is noted racist Richard Spencer, which makes sense given that gun control measures and groups have a deeply and overt racist past. If you hate a given minority group, disarming them to allow the state to run over their rights is a top priority.

Predictably, too, there's already a lawsuit attempting to undo this blatant abuse of power that runs roughshod over the US Constitution. Notable too, public officials in New Mexico have no desire to enforce the order: "Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, who once served as a Democratic party leader and was appointed by Lujan Grisham, on Saturday joined Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina saying they wouldn't enforce the order."

For those checking at home, you won't find a broad exemption to the US Constitution that Grisham is trying to push. A governor can't just declare: "This is an emergency! We need to override constitutional protections!" A written constitution's purpose is to prevent this specific scenario by forcing everyone to play by an agreed-on set of rules.

Thankfully, most people seem to have come to their senses to realize this is an abuse of power. Democrats have also spent the better part of two decades losing ground on this subject. The number and diversity of gun owners have grown considerably since the turn of the century. And after the pandemic years, it's hard to take any left-leaning pitch that self-defense tools aren't needed.

The impetus by Grisham is worth meditating on, however. The basic formula for her unconstitutional power grab is easy to see. Step 1: Declare a public emergency, similar to COVID-19. Step 2: Use those emergency powers to unilaterally take actions not approved by Congress or the voters. Step 3: Dare anyone to challenge your moves for the public good.

We've seen this play out a few ways under the current administration. President Biden tried forgiving all student loans unilaterally, which everyone agreed he didn't have the power to do. But it made him "look good" in a specific constituency's eyes, so he made the power grab and let the Supreme Court clean up the mess.

Democrats have even talked about taking similar steps over the climate. Biden has talked about declaring a "climate public emergency" and using those powers to drive home change. Some activists want to take that avenue. But just like student loans, firearms, and more, these aren't attempts to save the world. Radical partisans are trying to circumnavigate the US Constitution to deliver their own ends.

The purpose of Congress is to force everyone to come to an agreement on what needs to happen and force compromise—preventing majorities from running roughshod over everyone else or minority position groups from seizing illegal power. The American system is set up to prevent tyranny from multiple avenues.

There's a troubling trend developing where politicians of all sides declare various emergencies to get around the Constitution. Don't like an election? Try to overrule the constitutional process. Don't like the Second Amendment? Declare an emergency to override it. That's not how all this works, and we need to start hammering back at this tendency. Grisham deserves an impeachment inquiry from her state for illegally trying to override people's rights for her own partisan reasons. Congress needs to shoot down Biden.

The reasons for doing all this are straightforward: upholding the American constitutional order is paramount. Politicians who refuse to defend that basic line, typically one of the things they commit to after reciting an oath, should be ridden out of office on a rail.

Further, governing societies via constant public emergencies is no way for a society to live. It's a recipe for destroying a common society because you're constantly bouncing between the pet emergencies of one group over the other. And they all do this because they lack the basic skillset of passing legislation into law. If you can't convince people in Congress to pass a bill, you can't declare a public emergency to get what you want.

That's not how constitutional systems work, and no one wants to live under that rule by edict. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a public disgrace and deserves ridicule, shame, and impeachment. Unfortunately, she's not the only politician taking these kinds of actions.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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