New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signs gun buyback order

Roman Tiraspolsky /

By Tom Joyce | The Center Square contributor

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a revised executive order that she hopes will curb gun violence and substance misuse.

The new public health order contains a provision to organize “safe surrender events,” better known as gun buybacks, according to a release from the governor’s office.

“The New Mexico Department of Public Safety shall organize safe surrender events (also known as ‘gun buy-backs’) in the cities of Albuquerque, Española, and Las Cruces within thirty days,” the provision said.

Although politicians nationwide have supported gun buyback programs, evidence that they reduce gun violence is scant, according to Rand Corporation

“Although it is possible that gun buybacks have prevented incidents of firearm-related harm, it is very unlikely that such small reductions in the number of guns available would lead to measurable decreases in firearm crime, injuries, or deaths,” the centrist think tank states. “Communities continue to hold gun buyback events without empirical evidence that they reduce firearm violence.”

Regardless, Lujan Grisham said the state needs to take action to prevent gun violence.

“The fact of the matter is that New Mexicans are still being threatened, injured, and killed by firearms,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in the release. “Just yesterday, two guns were found in the possession of students at an Albuquerque high school, and while thankfully no one was hurt, these incidents have profound psychological effects on our children. The last four weeks have clearly demonstrated the impact we can have on violent crime when we work in better coordination, but the situation remains dire. We’re not letting up, and I’m continuing to make investments that drive down violence in our communities and protect our children.”

DOH Secretary Patrick Allen reiterated that sentiment.

“Gun violence is a leading cause of death among young people in New Mexico. That should horrify all of us,” Allen said in the release. “It’s vital that we all work to nurture a culture of responsible firearm ownership and safety. By supplying free trigger locks and orchestrating safe surrender events, we join forces with our communities, courageously tackling the menace of gun violence to ensure the safety and well-being of every New Mexican.”

The action comes weeks after Lujan Grisham unsuccessfully attempted to enact a strict gun control measure that would have banned carrying a loaded weapon off of private property in Bernalillo County, including Albuquerque. The governor’s office wanted to fine violators $5,000 each. A federal judge temporarily blocked the order, and other Democratic politicians called her plan unconstitutional. 

Most gun deaths in New Mexico are suicides; at least 64% of violent gun deaths in the state in 2020 were suicides; this was about double the number that were homicides with a firearm (32%), as The Center Square previously reported.

One can read the full executive order the governor signed here.