New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez has decided against defending Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recent gun order in court.
The order, which has already faced several legal challenges, imposes a temporary ban on the carrying of firearms in public spaces across Bernalillo County.
Torrez expressed his belief that the emergency order violated both state and federal constitutions in a letter addressed to the governor on Tuesday. Citing his duty to uphold and defend the constitutional rights of every citizen, Torrez stated that his office would not provide legal defense against the lawsuits targeting the governor’s order. He also questioned the effectiveness of the order in enhancing public safety and raised concerns about its constitutionality.
The executive order was signed by Governor Lujan Grisham last Friday, following a series of tragic shootings that resulted in the deaths of young children. This order, set to remain in effect for a period of 30 days, prohibits the open and concealed carrying of firearms in Albuquerque and the surrounding county.
Torrez, alongside other officials, called on the governor to engage in a more collaborative process with members of the New Mexico Legislature instead of taking unilateral action that could be viewed as infringing upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. The attorney general emphasized the importance of addressing the underlying factors contributing to gun violence within the community.
BREAKING: New Mexico Attorney General tells the Governor that he won’t defend her carry ban, saying “I do not believe it passes constitutional muster.” pic.twitter.com/ORat27wAvn
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) September 12, 2023
The decision made by Torrez aligns him with other officials who have refused to enforce or support the governor’s order. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, also a Democrat, took to social media to declare that the city’s police force would not be responsible for enforcing the order. Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen had previously announced his refusal to enforce the order, citing its potential violation of constitutional principles.
Governor Lujan Grisham, in response to Sheriff Allen’s stance, issued a statement affirming her administration’s commitment to public safety and reiterating her dedication to the well-being of New Mexico residents. The governor argued that it is not the role of the police to determine the constitutionality of orders and criticized their lack of support for gun violence prevention efforts, including measures addressing domestic violence and implementing universal background checks.
N.M. @GovMLG: “It’s not for police to tell me what’s constitutional or not. They haven’t supported one, not one gun violence effort in the state of New Mexico, including domestic violence protections, universal background checks.” pic.twitter.com/KE7YT0BS9B
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 12, 2023
The governor’s order has drawn criticism not only from local officials but also from national progressive figures. Representative Ted Lieu from California and gun control activist David Hogg have both voiced their concerns, asserting that the order violates the U.S. Constitution. This ongoing debate underscores the delicate balance between implementing gun control measures and upholding individual rights in the United States.