By Andrew Hay
(Reuters) -New Mexico's governor on Friday narrowed her heavily criticized blanket suspension on the right to carry guns in the state's largest metropolitan area to one just covering parks and playgrounds in Albuquerque and its surrounding county.
Michelle Lujan Grisham framed the initial suspension, which a federal judge blocked after gun rights activists challenged it, and Friday's new order as a public health response to deaths of children in gun violence, including the killing last week of an 11-year-old boy in an apparent Albuquerque road rage incident. Her unusual moved pulled New Mexico into a national debate on gun rights and public safety.
“I’m going to continue pushing to make sure that all of us are using every resource available to put an end to this public health emergency with the urgency it deserves,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.
A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily froze the firearms provisions of Lujan Grisham's initial health order pending further litigation. National gun rights advocates had argued, and the judge agreed, that her 30-day suspension of firearm carry rights in all areas of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County went against a landmark 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gun rights.
Democrat leaders of both chambers of New Mexico's legislature backed Lujan Grisham's modified firearms suspension at a Friday press conference. Her earlier ban had met opposition from some Democrats including the state's attorney general, as well as Albuquerque and Bernalillo county police.
In response to the modified firearms restrictions, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the city had already banned guns from almost all city parks in 2020.
Keller on Wednesday urged Lujan Grisham to call a special session of the state legislature on gun violence.
Lujan Grisham on Friday said she had no plan to call a special session as she believed her public health order, which includes measures on drugs and juvenile offenders, would at this time achieve more than new legislation.
(Reporting By Andrew Hay; editing by Donna Bryson and Grant McCool)