New Mexico mayor calls for legislative debate after gun ban

FILE PHOTO: Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a Democratic Party of New Mexico campaign rally featuring U.S. President Joe Biden at the Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., November 3, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

(Reuters) – Albuquerque’s mayor is urging New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to call a special state legislative session on gun crime after the governor’s ban on carrying guns in his city threw it into the center of the U.S. gun-rights debate.

Lujan Grisham last week declared a 30-day suspension of firearm carry laws in New Mexico’s largest city and surrounding county, outraging gun-rights advocates, drawing criticism as unconstitutional by law enforcement, and highlighting Albuquerque’s violent crime rate that is among the highest in the nation.

In a letter to his fellow Democrat Lujan Grisham dated Tuesday and seen by Reuters, Mayor Tim Keller said to fight gun crime he needed a special legislative session to fix a broken criminal justice system, regulate assault weapons and provide addiction and mental health services, among other measures.

“Albuquerque families can’t afford political debates that distract us from fighting violent crime,” Keller wrote.

Lujan Grisham suspended open and concealed gun carry laws in a Friday public health order, two days after 11-year-old Froylan Villegas was killed and his cousin Tatiana Villegas, 24, paralyzed from the waist down when bullets hit their car as they left an Albuquerque Isotopes minor league baseball game. The shooting was apparently an act of road rage.

That came weeks after five year-old Galilea Samaniego was shot dead in her sleep when teenagers stole cars and fired at her west Albuquerque home in a drive by shooting.

Gun violence kills around 500 people a year in New Mexico, which ranks sixth among U.S. states for gun deaths per capita, according to gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety. Albuquerque is among the 10 most dangerous U.S. cities, based on FBI violent crime data.

Lujan Grisham’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Keller’s letter.

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