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ACLU of New Mexico raises concerns about governor’s executive order on gun violence

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Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order on gun violence this week is prompting legal challenges, stirring support from gun control advocates and is being questioned by politicians on both sides of the aisle, including U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.

The New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has also raised concerns about the criminalization of vulnerable people, especially young people.

Lalita Moskowitz, litigation manager with ACLU of New Mexico, said her top concern with the order is one that has gotten less attention than the suspension of open and concealed carry laws in most public places. What stuck out to her was the call for the Children, Youth and Families Department to immediately suspend the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.

“We know that when young people are put into juvenile prison, that is very likely to entrench any violence and trauma that is going on for that person. And it makes them much, much more likely to end up in the adult criminal system,” she said.

She said that the order’s directive for state agencies to test wastewater in schools for illegal substances will also serve to criminalize young people and contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Moskowitz added the order’s directives are too vague, especially on enforcement.

“For people who are trying to comply with this order, and for people who are perhaps enforcing it, it's really important that everybody knows what to expect,” she said.”Otherwise, we know that that leads to more racial profiling and other kinds of profiling by police,”

The ACLU of New Mexico cautioned in a press release Monday that the increase in state police to enforce the matter will likely lead to more over-policing of poor communities and communities of color, while not decreasing the rate of gun violence.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners. 

Megan Myscofski was a reporter with KUNM's Poverty and Public Health Project.
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