It seems that police are a little reluctant to enforce Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s ban on lawful carry in the Albuquerque area. The officials responsible for enforcing the rule–I won’t call it a law because it’s not–are saying they just won’t.
That means it’s unlikely the directive will have any impact at all.
Local law enforcement seems to hold their oath to the Constitution more deeply than Grisham.
Or, there may be a more practical reason why chief law enforcement officers are saying they won’t enforce a blatantly unconstitutional law, and Grisham has herself to blame for it.
SANTA FE, NM (April 7, 2021) – Today, New Mexico became the second state in the nation to abolish qualified immunity when Governor Lujan Grisham signed the New Mexico Civil Rights Act into law. In addition to eliminating qualified immunity, this historic legislation will allow New Mexicans – including the wrongfully convicted – to recover damages from the government when their constitutional rights are violated while also providing incentives for government employees to respect and uphold constitutional rights.
“Qualified immunity is a court-created doctrine that allows public officials to escape accountability after they engage in misconduct, even when their actions send an innocent person to prison. The New Mexico Civil Rights Act represents an historic culture shift in the fight for real accountability in law enforcement, and we applaud Governor Lujan Grisham for signing it into law,” said Laurie Roberts, a State Policy Advocate for the Innocence Project.
“HB 4 is an incredible victory for the people of New Mexico. For those harmed by government officials, it has often been impossible to hold anyone accountable. Fortunately, with this Civil Rights Act we are tipping the scales toward justice,” said Barron Jones, Senior Policy Strategist for the ACLU of New Mexico.
Now, understand that I’m not a fan of qualified immunity as it’s currently used in this country. I don’t think police operating in good faith should have to worry about being sued, but it’s often used to protect people simply because they’re operating in a law-enforcement capacity despite some pretty egregious wrongdoing.
Yet with Grisham’s directive about Albuquerque, local police are now put in a position of either complying with the governor’s rule or facing the possibility of officers being sued over their attempts to enforce it. After all, everyone knows that lawsuits will be coming.
I mean, they’re already here, so there’s no reason to believe there won’t be more.
And without qualified immunity, individual officers and their respective departments might well find themselves having to go to court as well. Considering that gun rights groups would likely back some of these lawsuits, the officers would likely find themselves out-gunned in a civil trial.
So, they wisely decided to let Grisham issue whatever directives she wants with regard to Albuquerque but they won’t enforce them.
Of course, state law enforcement will likely enforce the rule, though no one knows how much attention they’ll pay the city, even under this directive. That’s probably good for the officers who will have to enforce a rule they know to be unconstitutional or face punishment. Those guys are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of moment.
If so, my advice is to side with the Constitution. You’ll come out ahead.