The National Rifle Association and a group of firearms-related businesses and advocacy organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham over her order to close gun shops and shooting ranges as a part of a broader measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“By arbitrarily, capriciously — and unconstitutionally — targeting those who lawfully sell firearms and ammunition, New Mexico is depriving citizens of their natural and fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” the complaint says.
“Uncertain times are precisely when fundamental rights — like the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense — must be protected.”
The complaint was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.
The plaintiffs include Torrance County resident Robert Aragon; New Mexico Shooting Sports Association President Zachary Fort; David Anthony Segura, a firearms instructor for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety; and Richard Kennedy, owner of Southwest Gunsmith Technologies in Moriarty.
Roses’ Guns and More in Moriarty, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearm Policy Coalition joined the NRA in bringing the lawsuit, which also names the state Department of Health and Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel as defendants.
They are asking the court to find that firearms and ammunition makers and dealers and shooting ranges are “essential” businesses and must be allowed to operate during the pandemic.
The complaint also asks the court to find the governor’s public health order directing them to close unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs also seek unspecified damages and legal fees.
Asked to comment on the lawsuit, Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said in an email the state “has taken and will continue to take an extremely broad view of what is considered non-essential to public health amid this pandemic.”
“Gun stores are hardly the only entity having to adapt as we work to stem illnesses and prevent deaths,” Sackett wrote.
“No one is happy about closing in-person business in our state — no one, including the governor,” Sackett continued. “But it is inarguable that the only way we get through this pandemic with the fewest number of deaths that we can manage is to limit travel outside of the home to the greatest extent possible — and while we as an administration unequivocally support the constitutional right to purchase a firearm, we recognize that right does not correspond to a right to congregate in a store and infect neighbors and workers and public safety officers amid an unprecedented global pandemic.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. An Albuquerque attorney who is representing the plaintiffs, former Republican National Committee member Patrick Rogers, did not respond to a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.