Firearms and other deadly weapons are prohibited in Albuquerque parks and recreation facilities under a new administrative order issued Friday by Mayor Tim Keller’s office. The rule excludes law enforcement officials and applies to any city property used for public school-related activities, including Civic Plaza.
The ban comes days after armed militia members of the New Mexico Civil Guard argued with demonstrators at the statue of the genocidal conquistador Juan de Oñate in front of the Albuquerque Museum in Old Town the evening of Monday, June 15. After more than an hour of a peaceful prayer vigil at Tiguex Park with hundreds of attendees, about 50 protesters went to the monument and some started making moves to take the statue down. Steven Baca, who the Civil Guard says is not affiliated with their group, began roughing up protesters before running away. A few pursued Baca, one tackling him, and he shot one of them. The victim is in the hospital and recovering after surgery.
The Albuquerque Police Department, which had undercover officers on scene Monday night as tensions escalated between militiamen and protesters, has been criticized for not intervening until after the shooting.
Matt Ross, communications director for Keller’s office, said Friday evening the new order is an extension of efforts the city began last year to prohibit weapons in facilities used for educating young people. “We issued that first administrative order to make it clear that the state law [prohibiting deadly weapons at] schools also applies to community centers,” Ross wrote in a text message. “This latest administrative instruction makes it clear that law also applies to city parks and recreation centers.”
Carrying a deadly weapon on school premises is a fourth degree felony under New Mexico statute.
The order references the shooting near Tiguex Park. "With the Albuquerque Police Department recovering a large number of firearms and ammunition, that incident had the potential to be much more violent than it was," it reads. "The City of Albuquerque has the police power to protect its inhabitants and preserve peace and order under NMSA 1978, 3-18-1, and desires to exercise this authority to prevent future incidents like the shooting on June 15, 2020."
"In declaring the Second Amendment's individual right to bear arms in District of Columbia v. Heller," the order goes on, "the United States Supreme Court recognized the legitimacy of prohibitions on carrying firearms in 'sensitive places.'" It says the high court in that case specifically noted schools and government buildings as sensitive places, but didn't provide an exhaustive list.
The order was posted Friday evening at Roosevelt Park where people gathered for Juneteenth celebrations. The weekend’s Juneteenth celebrations and marches began Friday in Albuquerque and elsewhere in the state.
UPDATE 6/22: This story has been updated with additional information from the CABQ administrative instruction.