Guns, Government, and Gandhi: Can 'Peaceful Noncompliance' Stop New Mexico's Attack on Gun Rights?

(AP Photo/Juan Antonio Labreche)

What is the best way to fight back against unconstitutional government actions that threaten our natural rights? It’s a question as old as time, it seems. After the news broke about New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s “emergency” order banning the carrying of firearms in Albuquerque, the question became even more relevant.

The matter is currently being challenged in court. But outside of that, there must be more that we the people can do to show authoritarians in office that we are not going to tolerate their tyranny, right? Libertarian presidential candidate Chase Oliver, in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, proposed a radical solution: “Peaceful noncompliance.”

In his post, Oliver encouraged people to peacefully disobey Gov. Lujan Grisham’s gun ban, noting that if one is arrested for “exercising your right to bear arms,” they should “sue the state.” He also indicated that there would be “legal support from the community” to do so. The candidate even went so far as to say that proponents of gun rights should “take this case all the way to [the Supreme Court] if you must.”

Full tweet:

Some have asked me what is the best course of action to oppose the unconstitutional actions of Governor Lujan in New Mexico. I encourage peaceful noncompliance. If you are arrested for exercising your right to bear arms, sue the state. You will have legal support from the community. Take the case all the way to SCOTUS of you must. I imagine this is a pretty easy case for courts to rule against the governor. Even she admits that what she's doing would get struck down by a legal challenge. Peaceful noncompliance and legal challenges will end this and secure rights in the future.

In a later tweet, he wrote:

If every gun owner in Albuquerque didn't comply, the government would back off.

They can't arrest all of you.

What do you think? Could civil disobedience be an effective way of fighting back against Lujan Grisham's apparent tyranny? 

Peaceful noncompliance is rooted in the notion of civil disobedience – a refusal to comply with various laws, demands, or orders of a government without resorting to violent means to oppose them. The practice was successfully used by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi to pressure their respective governments to halt their oppressive behavior. This form of resistance has been used to great effect to shine a light on government corruption while not resulting in violent conflicts.

As stated previously, Lujan Grisham’s order is already being challenged in court. A gun-rights group filed a lawsuit on Saturday to put a stop to it. But perhaps Oliver makes a valid point about the potential for someone to be arrested for carrying a firearm in Albuquerque. The mayor of the city indicated that it would be state police who are responsible for enforcing the order rather than local law enforcement, so there is a chance that this could happen. If it did, perhaps the case would go to the Supreme Court, where it would most likely be struck down.

If the Supreme Court ruled on the matter, it might set a powerful legal precedent that would bar other state governments from enacting similar measures to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. It would be a huge slap in the face to the anti-gunner lobby, some of whom criticized the governor’s order. After the Bruen decision was handed down last year, another ruling could strengthen protections against infringements on the Second Amendment.

The reason I am bringing up this question is because over the past year, I have traveled across the country covering stories involving cases in which local and state governments use their positions to abuse their citizens. These are stories that do not make the national spotlight because too many of us are overly fixated on national politics rather than what is happening in our backyards.

I have seen that one of the reasons government officials get away with tyrannical conduct is because people are quick to give in and roll over. These people know that they will not be held accountable when they engage in corruption, so there is no reason for them to behave. But, in situations where there is an outcry and people are willing to demonstrate against the government, they can successfully fight for their rights. Regardless of how it may seem, most politicians are cowards who enact their authoritarian measures from behind closed doors. If enough people are willing to get out into the street and send a message, many of them will give in.

With this situation, I think Oliver’s remedy is apt. Yes, it might not be easy to engage in civil disobedience, and yes, it might raise the ire of the authorities. But, as the candidate said: They can’t arrest everyone. Moreover, if enough people are willing to take a stand, they might not even try.



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