Last Friday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration issued an emergency public health order that imposed a 30-day ban on carrying firearms on public and state property in the state’s most populous city, Albuquerque, and surrounding Bernalillo County. The Democratic governor’s largely unprecedented move, as Slate put it, was an “utter disaster” from the start — backlash came from gun rights and gun reform proponents, progressives and conservatives, and from within Lujan Grisham’s party.
Evidently, it was also destined to be short-lived. A federal judge blocked the ban on Wednesday, less than a week after it was ordered, until another hearing in early October.
As The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia and Chip Brownlee reported this week, Lujan Grisham’s ban may have been flashy, but it was never going to be a substantial solution to gun violence in Albuquerque, or New Mexico at large. Other, less-controversial policies hold a lot more promise: Mascia and Brownlee point out that the state could establish a dedicated Office of Violence Prevention, or mandate a waiting period for firearm purchases, or require law enforcement agencies to trace all crime guns — policies that have precedent in other states and are more likely to survive court challenges.
There was another critical shortcoming in Lujan Grisham’s calculation to order the gun carry ban: She didn’t have buy-in from key figures like Albuquerque’s mayor, Bernalillo County’s sheriff, and New Mexico’s attorney general (all of whom are Democrats). In the U.S., measures to curb gun violence require a lot of backing — so even if you take away the constitutional questions, without support from these officials, it was almost inevitable that Lujan Grisham’s ban wouldn’t last long.
Government officials and institutions, by nature, play a pivotal role in gun violence prevention efforts — and the controversy over New Mexico’s firearm carry ban shows how quickly attempted solutions can go awry. The other stories The Trace published this week examine how different public entities are faring in their efforts to address the crisis, whether proactively or in response to an emergency: Brownlee looked at libraries that provide violence prevention services, even as they face political threats. Mascia talked to New York City transit workers who fear they’re still unprepared for a mass shooting like the one they dealt with last year.
And Mensah M. Dean reported on the fallout from the Philadelphia Police Department’s false account of the killing of Eddie Irizarry, upon whom an officer opened fire five seconds after stepping out of his marked car. Speaking about Irizarry’s shooting, outgoing Philly Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw summed the dynamic up well: “It feels like when we take fifty steps forward, sometimes we’re taking a hundred steps back.” Links to their stories are below.
Philly’s strategy for solving violent crime relies on the public’s trust. The police killing of Eddie Irizarry, 27, threatens to strain that trust even more.
The move to curtail gun violence has gotten a lot of attention, but less controversial solutions hold more promise.
A dozen train conductors and operators said a lack of protocols and training leaves MTA employees — and subway riders — in danger.
Libraries have always sought to build stronger, more resilient communities. These days, they’re also furthering public safety.
What to Know This Week
California lawmakers reached the end of their legislative session. Among the gun-related bills they sent to Governor Gavin Newsom: a proposal for an 11 percent excise tax on guns and ammunition that would help fund violence prevention programs, and legislation that would place strict rules on where firearms can be carried and how licensing authorities determine who can carry them. [Los Angeles Times/CalMatters]
Alex Jones owes nearly $1.5 billion in court-ordered damages to Sandy Hook families for repeatedly promoting the false claim that the 2012 school shooting was a hoax. The right-wing conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host spent over $93,000 on personal expenses in July — but the families have yet to see a dime. [Associated Press]
The number of deadly school shootings hit a record high in the 2021-22 academic year, new federal data shows. It’s the second year in a row that school shootings with casualties reached an all-time peak. [USA TODAY]
Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, was indicted in Delaware federal court on three counts tied to the possession of a gun while using narcotics. Two of the counts are tied to allegations that the younger Biden indicated on a federally mandated form that he was not using illegal drugs when he purchased a firearm in 2018. [NBC]
U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, led a group of lawmakers in introducing the Disarm Hate Act, legislation that would bar people convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from obtaining guns. Escobar, whose district was the site of a deadly racist shooting four years ago, was joined by representatives who have also had hate-motivated mass shootings in their states or districts. [The Texas Tribune]
Though violent crime in Washington, D.C., isn’t nearly as high as it was in the 1990s, residents have been shaken by a sharp uptick this year and months of persistent, seemingly random shootings, including in areas where crime is less expected. [The Washington Post]
Just days after the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last year, the CEO of Axon Enterprises, formerly called Taser, announced that the company had started developing stun gun-equipped drones that could be installed in schools to incapacitate active shooters. The move went against recommendations from Axon’s ethics board — but despite concerns about privacy and accuracy risks, racist impact, and the potential for injury or death, Axon appears to be moving forward with its armed drone plan. [The Markup]
Victims’ rights laws, often called Marsy’s Law statutes, are increasingly used to shield the names of police officers after use-of-force incidents. One such statute in Ohio is protecting the identity of the officer who shot and killed 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young, who was pregnant, last month — the latest example of how these laws keep police anonymous. [The Marshall Project]
Students from across North Carolina gathered at the state Legislature on Tuesday to demand that lawmakers pass gun safety laws. The rally took place hours after legislators advanced a bill that would make it easier for some residents to obtain a concealed handgun permit. Last month, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina A&T University each experienced a shooting; UNC students experienced another lockdown this week over a warning of an “armed and dangerous person.” [NC Newsline/USA TODAY]
John Brown Sr., 79, was a father figure to everyone around him. “You could go to him to ask him about anything,” one of his neighbors told The Advocate. Brown was shot and killed in his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last weekend. While he had a successful career as a cook and restaurant owner, Brown was, primarily, a lifelong learner: In recent years, his children said, he had obtained two degrees from Southern University. He was working toward his masters degree in criminal justice, with the goal of empowering Black men by educating them about the legal system. He was a familiar character in his close-knit community, known for being somewhat particular — “a real stickler on protocol,” a friend said with a laugh — but generous with his time and advice. “Everybody just loved him,” his daughter said. “It was Daddy’s way.”
In Their Own Words: The Youth Mental Health Crisis: “Young people are engaged community members, organizers, writers, and people who exist in their own fullness – who deserve to be taken seriously in their work, ideas, and lives. Being tasked with saving a world that often seems hellbent on rebreaking itself as you grow up in it has always seemed like an impossible expectation. … This project isn’t giving young people a voice. Their voices are all their own.” [Scalawag]
“It’s worse in some ways, like a wicked spirit is out there. … You could just be going down the street, going to the car and you can be killed.”
— Ronald Moten, who was arrested on drug charges in the 1990s before founding a violence prevention nonprofit, on violent crime in Washington, D.C., to The Washington Post