It seems that politicians and their medical advisors have lost sight of the objectives of social distancing. While they still speak in terms of “flattening the curve,” their actions appear to be more focused on eradicating the curve altogether. While that might be a noble goal, it’s not particularly realistic, and it’s not what we the people signed up for.
Recall that the point of “flattening the curve” was to prevent the novel Chinese Corona Virus from overwhelming our healthcare system, resulting in mass casualties due to a lack of medical facilities to care for the sudden flood of cases. Well, we’re now well into, or beyond, the peak period in most places and this “new normal” that we are all living appears to have worked. Even in critical hot-spots like New York City, where heavy population density, combined with high tourism and global travel, resulted in the worst outbreak in the nation, the spread was slowed enough to get through the worst of the disease, and the healthcare system was able to effectively handle the surge.
But now, as the peak is passing in some places and slowly approaching in others, petty tyrants around the country are still flexing their nanny muscles and demanding that businesses remain closed, people stay in their homes, and all “non-essential” activities be curtailed. As Americans have been resoundingly successful at slowing the spread and preventing the anticipated spikes in the disease, some of our “leaders” have shifted the goalposts, insisting that tight restrictions must remain in place until – when? Until there is no more threat from the disease at all? Until the curve goes subterranean?
New Mexico is an excellent case study. With a population of only about 2.1 million people, spread over an area of over 121,500 miles, New Mexico is among the least densely populated states in the nation. There are only 17 people per square mile, and a full 40% of the total population resides in Albuquerque and nearby Santa Fe. That leaves a lot of mostly empty territory, and few opportunities for the rapid spread of a virus like COVID-19. But Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has clamped down on the state in almost as draconian a fashion as her fellow Democrat, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.
One of the things that makes Gov. Lujan Grisham stand out though, is her insistence that gun stores and ranges remain closed, except to provide services to police and other state agents, and only by appointment. This in spite the fact that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared firearm businesses to be “essential” in their guidance, not to mention that pesky bit of the U.S. Constitution stating that the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Even gun-hating governors in California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have backed down on orders for gun stores to close, but not Governor Lujan Grisham.
Gun groups and local activists have filed suit against Lujan Grisham, demanding that she add firearm-related businesses and ranges to the “essential businesses” list, but the governor has doubled down, stating that it is a “badge of honor” to be sued by the NRA.
The lessons being offered up by politicians like Lujan Grisham, are numerous and important. First, she’s teaching us that she doesn’t trust the people who elected her. She’s saying that they must be told what to do and how to do it, and that without her instructions – backed up by burly men and women with guns and badges – she believes the people would just blunder around bumping into one another and infecting each other with COVID-19.
Second, she’s teaching us that she, and politicians like her, respects neither the U.S. Constitution nor that of her state. We all know what the U.S. Constitution says, but here’s what the New Mexico Constitution says:
Sec. 6. [Right to bear arms.]
No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security
and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful
purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed
No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right
to keep and bear arms. (As amended November 2, 1971 and November 2,
There is no “except in the case of a virus” clause in there.
Third, she’s teaching us that philosophical purity and adherence to party dogma is more important to her than common sense or political sensibility, and that given the opportunity, she and her ilk, would implement the most draconian gun control bills they could think of, as long as they had the votes to get them passed. For example, look up the text of H.R.5717 to see how far they’re willing to go today, and imagine how much farther they would go with a majority in the House and Senate, and control of the White House.
Fourth, Governor Lujan Grisham is teaching us that, either she doesn’t know anything about guns, gun sales, firearms training, and shooting ranges, or she just doesn’t care.
It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people are feeling vulnerable and insecure at the moment, and a whole bunch of them want to acquire firearms to help ensure the personal safety of themselves and their families. They clearly consider this “essential” enough to risk their health to accomplish, though purchasing a firearm or ammunition usually doesn’t involve long lines or crowds, and there are very easy ways to ensure that doing so in the current environment remains safe. It’s also obvious that a whole bunch of people purchased their first firearm in the weeks before the Governor decided to shut down gun stores and ranges. So that leaves us with numerous first-time gun owners who now can’t get training or engage in safe, supervised practice with their newly acquired defensive tools.
It’s also worth pointing out that some governors have grudgingly allowed outdoor ranges to re-open, while keeping indoor ranges closed. This ignores the fact that indoor ranges, thanks to the efforts they go to in mitigating risks of lead exposure, are probably among the safest places a person could be to avoid contact with an airborne pathogen. Not only do indoor ranges have heavy-duty air-handlers that ensure that air is always moving downrange, away from the firing line, most also have physical dividers between shooting stations on the line.
The important take-away is that none of this matters to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. She is proud to trace her family lineage back 12 generations in Nuevo Mexico, and her autocratic, classist approach to governance is reminiscent of that of the old Mexico tradition. Lujan Grisham, who most people probably wouldn’t recognize as Hispanic, unless they were told, seems to gravitate to the role of the caring Patrona looking after her poor, clueless peones, whom she considers incapable of making wise decisions and taking care of themselves. While that description might fit some of her core constituents, the rest of the citizens of New Mexico would rather take responsibility for their own lives, including taking precautions against disease as they see fit, and providing for their own, and their family’s security.