The New Mexico attorney general announced his office’s refusal to defend the governor’s public emergency order limiting gun rights in a single county.
On Friday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) declared limitations on open and concealed carry laws in Albuquerque and its surrounding county.
Grisham declared the need to address recent gun-related fatalities, including the tragic death of an 11-year-old boy shot outside a minor league baseball stadium on Wednesday night.
The suspension of open and concealed carry in the designated area is categorized as an emergency public health order.
Gun rights activists criticized the governor’s order, while Attorney General Raúl Torrez informed Grisham in a letter that the order could be deemed unconstitutional.
BREAKING REPORT: New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez says he WILL NOT defend Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in lawsuits she now faces over her BAN on carrying guns.
"Though I recognize my statutory obligation as New Mexico’s chief legal officer to defend state officials… pic.twitter.com/fmsR4ttUTk
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) September 12, 2023
Torrez said, “Though I recognize my statutory obligation as New Mexico’s chief legal officer to defend state officials when they are sued in their official capacity, my duty to uphold and defend the constitutional rights of every citizen takes precedence.”
He continued, “Simply put, I do not believe that the Emergency Order will have any meaningful impact on public safety, but, more importantly, I do not believe it passes constitutional muster.”
He proceeded to condemn the governor for undertaking actions that would have minimal impact on gun violence but would unquestionably infringe on citizens’ rights.
He said, “I encourage you to engage in a more thoughtful and deliberative process with members of the New Mexico Legislature rather than taking unilateral action that infringes on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens while having little if any discernible impact on the underlying dynamics driving gun violence in our community.”
Four lawsuits challenging the order have been filed in federal court, with two more in progress. On Friday, Grisham acknowledged the likelihood of legal challenges but cited instances of gun violence against children as the inspiration behind the emergency policy.
Grisham said, “I’ve warned everyone that we expect a challenge, probably while you’re writing this, we’re getting a challenge, and that’s the way it should work. But I have to take a tough, direct stand, or basically, I’m just ignoring the fact that we lost an 11-year-old, another child.”
The public health order will remain in effect for 30 days, with Grisham indicating her willingness to extend it based on its effectiveness in curbing gun violence.