Michelle Lujan Grisham

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.

(33) comments

Jon Connor

Read this to learn the truth about these federal reserve bailouts


Rich Seibert

In writing to William Jarvis, Jefferson said, "You seem . . . to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy."

The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped."

Stephen Fox

Well thought out and insightful constitutional law insight, but I don't entirely agree with you nor Jefferson on this one. Federal Courts are where such matters are most often resolved. That is the way it is in in litigious America

Rich Seibert

Depending on Federal Judges to Protect Your Gun Rights Is a Bad Plan.

This is a really bad strategy.

At its core, the Second Amendment exists as a limit on federal authority. When you sue in federal court, you do so in the hope that the federal government will limit itself.

Remember, federal courts operate as part of the federal government, and federal judges are nothing more than politically connected lawyers drawing federal paychecks. When we keep these facts in mind, it becomes pretty obvious we shouldn’t count on federal courts to limit federal power, and uphold or preserve the Second Amendment.

James Madison gave us the blueprint. When the federal government commits unwarrantable acts, the Father of the Constitution didn’t say “file a lawsuit in federal court.” Madison advised a refusal to cooperate with officers of the union. Don’t depend on politically connected lawyers to protect your right to keep and bear arms.


Angel Ortiz

What bothers me is all the peeps who ran off to purchase weapons and are first time gun owners. No training in using a weapon. Just buy it and run home with their cases of toilet paper. I am sure most are packing weapons while out in public. What a crazy knee jerk reaction. The only thing more ludicrous is this law suit!

Khal Spencer

God forbid someone should suddenly decide to exercise a constitutional right for the first time. Just like God forbid someone should decide to register to vote for the first time.

Angel Ortiz

Honestly I am not comfortable with new gun owners running around with their weapons during a time of crisis. No understanding of what it truly means to have the power of life and death in their hands. What happens after the crisis is over and Mr. and Mrs. Smith are still armed and ready to fire at the first moment of fear? I have owned and operated weapons for over 20 years. I understand knowing your background in a firefight. I doubt that 99% of the recent purchases have that knowledge.

Khal Spencer

Be as uncomfortable as you want, but your comfort level does not trump someone else's rights.

We don't know whether those additional guns sold in New Mexico have caused more shootings and we don't have any data. As far as I know, there has not been a massive uptick in shootings commensurate with all these alleged new gun owners nor any studies. Its all political posturing by anti gun people. Plus, we don't know who in New Mexico is a new gun owner vs. someone buying an additional self defense gun as that data is not available.

I'm more than happy to see that new gun owners avail themselves of safety training and knowledge of self defense laws. The gun grabbers never support such efforts, instead blocking safety training and then using that lack of training against gun owners. Can't have it both ways.

kyle renfro

MLG has always been anti gun so this is just an attempt to further her desires. By closing dedicated gun stores who have little profit margin, i am sure she would hope they would go out of business which would be a win win for her. Also since Trump announced that gun stores were essential, she would out of her way to defy trump when she can and close them. Of course stores like Big R still are open and are still selling guns. Just like closing small or dedicated liquor stores while Albertsons, Smiths, Walmart are still selling alcohol is ridiculous. I think the big picture is the democratic platform is antigun and if she proclaims this mantra then she opens herself up for higher political aspirations should the dems take the federal stage

Stefanie Beninato

So interesting how any type of gun control makes the rabid right come out in droves. We would all like our businesses to be considered essential--after all we all have a right to life, liberty and property--the property includes businesses which fosters income and thus life. But is a gallery or a window washer essential now? Yes a gallery on San Francisco St was open on Th morning....and Pharmaca hires a window washer. And I would bet that any of these posters who are rabidly against MLG actions already have plenty of guns and ammos--just like their hero Trump--it is just another excuse to whine.

Charles Andreoli

Says Stef the whiner who thinks that anybody that disagrees with her is rabid. Things that make ya go Hmmmmm.

Stephen Fox

I must clarify that this comment poster was looking at my gallery as she rode by on her bicycle two days ago; she muttered something I didn't quite get, but I think the word "essential" was in there. I tried to clarify to her that I wasn't open, not at all, just there writing articles and op/eds plus sunning my poinsettias that were from the Christmas trash, but she seemed in such a hurry that clarification wasn't possible. All my lights in my shop were out, and if anyone in the past 3 weeks wanted to come in, I informed them that the shop is closed. I have made clear in this newspaper and many others that I feel a sadness thinking about the number of businesses that are going to fail because they can't be open and there is no one to buy from them anyway, so why not enjoy some basking in the sun and taking the time to comply with the Governor's edict, and then write and write and write.....nothing else to do these days, and for a fact, no art dealer I know (except one auctioneer) that I have seen is selling anything on line. Let's face it: our 7 billion New Mexico Tourist Economy is down the drain, kaput, and temporarily terminado.

Stan Biderman

Why do you need a gun right now? We are supposed to be social distancing.

I am not aware of hunting season now or why you need to defend yourself. Most people who own a gun have more than one anyway. Why are you so self centered and paranoid someone is going to take this right away permanently. You seem to be ignoring the reason behind this decision which is to prevent the spread of Covid 19 or is that the virus a conspiracy to you?

It would be very interesting to see how shooting deaths have declined during this time.

I wholeheartedly support our governor and her efforts to keep us safe and well. New Mexico has a low rate of virus spread due to her efforts.

Charles Andreoli

Where did you get the idea that I or anybody else owes you an explanation for our personal decisions regarding any issue.?

Michael Marvier

Guns, gun stores are not to0 high on my priority list. I would, however like to see them reopen the liquor stores. I miss Total Wine. Never that crowded and they have a great selection.

Charles Andreoli

MJ Dispensaries are open and you can still get a big bag of chips.

Khal Spencer

Amen on Total Wine. That decision might cost the Governor re-election.

Maximum Tupler

How do patriotic Americans join the lawsuit? Sign me up!

Mike Johnson

I would expect this to the the tip of the iceberg on lawsuits against the fascist Guv. Her arbitrary and capricious, unilateral decisions of what is essential and not has no basis for a defense of her egregious actions. She will pay for all this, sooner or later.

paul pacheco

I’m so proud to be an American citizen! And a member of the NRA…. This governor should be reminded that’s why we have the court system! Just because she believes she is in control of our lives and has no life of her own! No asinine governor or idiot is above the law, not even in New Mexico!

Gordon Jones

The point of my previous post was to point out that even the very conservative Mr. Justice Scalia recognized there are times when it is prudent for government to issue restrictions on access to firearms. I read his mention of felons and the mentally ill as being examples, not as an exhaustive list of when such restrictions are prudent. If I thought that the governor's action was anything but temporary owing to the extreme public health crisis, I would be among the first to call for her impeachment.

Khal Spencer

The late Justice did, but I wouldn't suggest what he would do now since he cannot refute my conjecture.

I'm on the BoD of the Los Alamos Sportsman's Club. Although one can make the argument as the Feds do that ranges are essential, we decided that the range would only be left open for law enforcement training, so rather than be on anyone's radar, the range is now restricted to law enforcement.

There could have been a middle ground on this as far as keeping gun shops open so that people can exercise their rights guaranteed under both the state and Federal constitution but with serious restrictions, such as were applied to bike shops. Given that the only way to legally acquire a gun in NM is to go through an FFL, it seems reasonable to make sure FFLs are open for business. So it is no surprise, and quite reasonable, to take this to court as closing them forcloses the expansive language of the state constitution. How it works out is anyone's guess.

Of course in Texas, Gov. Abbott is using the emergency to try to shut down the right to abortion and that is being litigated. Its not unreasonable to suggest that politics plays some small role in what is open and what is shut down. I send my annual check to the ACLU for that reason. Guess I will have to send one to the NMSSA as well.

Charles Andreoli

One thing that has not been addressed is the fact that the state of NM has absolutely no legal control over over the operations of FFL holders. There are no state laws regarding firearms sales except for the recently passed background check law and the state cannot compel FFL holders to do BGC's if they don't want to. The BATF has made it clear that state mandated BGC's are a state issue and voluntary on the part of the FFL holder. Where business licenses are required it is just a zoning and money collection scheme and has nothing to do with the actual FFL operation. The legal ramifications of this and the close down order are an unknown. This is where somebody says , "but other states do it", but that is because those states have a parallel licensing scheme that requires a state firearms sales license and duplicate data collection. This will be coming to you soon here in NM. The Gov is an operative of the DNC and the Bloomberg Anti Gun Organizations and is going to shove gun control down our throats at every opportunity. Kitchen table FFL's are still in operation.

Gordon Jones

In DC vs. Heller, Justice Scalia wrote," The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms" (pp. 54-56).

Khal Spencer

the State Constitution actually has stronger protections in New Mexico. So what is your point in quoting that bit of Heller? We are not talking about felons, the mentally, ill or sensitive places or limiting this to commercial sales.

On the other hand, has anyone seen the lawsuit?

Charles Andreoli

The first three words of your quote says it all. The problem that started long ago was allowing "Court Opinions" stand as law even when there was no constitutional basis for those "Opinions". Something we have seen in abundance in recent years.

Chris Mechels

So now the Governor, and her mouth piece Sackett, claim; "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". What rubbish!! Shutting the grocery store doors, and delivering the groceries, would address the Shut Down much more effectively that shutting gun shops. Michelle is still playing politics, full time, and NOT addressing the real problems, which would require HER to actually DO something. Like her edict that ALL counties would get tested, even those that are remote and have NO cases. Total politics; and explaining why our tests find one case per 25 tests. We're out there testing empty space, not the centers where testing pays off. Her politics are killing us.

Chris Mechels

Checking further, it seems like a stupid over reach by Michelle, within her overall confused distinction of "essential" versus "non-essential" list, driven by politics, not health concerns. Like leaving the hotels open for oil patch workers, where oil trumped Covid concerns. Michelle, an attorney with no real experience in leading much of anything, is just killing us with her political decisions, and DOH Kunkel is not bucking the politics, which undercut the health concerns.

Ted Nugent

What a joke of a lawsuit! Viva MLG!

Kevin Hauck

Agreed Constance


An outstanding example of a filing which is defined in the law as a frivolous lawsuit. it therefor. will probably be thrown out by the court.

this, coming from a target shooting hobbyist who will be locked out of our club's range for the duration.....along with the state police who train and qualify there...unless they are there for those purposes, but none other, like personal amusement.

some gun stores will accept appointments to process paperwork to ''clear'' a sale. call around.

Khal Spencer

Not surprising. The state passed a universal background check law. Firearms stores are the sole Federal Firearms licensees that do the background checks. A few are still opened if they do other business such as Big R, but most are shut down. So if you can't go to an FFL, you cannot obtain a firearm legally.

Both the state and Federal Constitutions recognize an enumerated right to keep and bear arms. By shutting down the gun stores, you circumvent this right.

Article II, § 6 of the Constitution of New Mexico provides: No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.

Had we not passed the UBC law, which keeps law abiding citizens from purchasing a gun on the private market, this would possibly be mooted but the state raised the stakes. Good lawsuit.

Charles Andreoli

The background check requirement is a non law and unenforceable. As justice S

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