CV NEWS FEED // Democratic New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez stated that he opposes Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order declaring gun violence in Albuquerque a “public health emergency” and will not defend it in lawsuits.
“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,” Torrez wrote in a letter addressed to Lujan Grisham Tuesday.
“Simply put, I do not believe that the Emergency Order will have any meaningful impact on public safety,” Torrez continued. “More importantly, I do not believe it passes constitutional muster.”
The attorney general acknowledged “the unacceptable toll that gun violence has exacted,” but denounced the method by which his governor attempted to address the problem.
“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,” Torrez wrote to Lujan Grisham:
I agree with the need to “start a debate” about the devastating impact that gun violence is having on our citizens, especially our children, but the issuance of an executive order in violation of core constitutional principles is not the appropriate method for bringing about such a debate, and its flawed legal foundation is likely to obscure, rather than highlight meaningful solutions.
He went on to reference the Second Amendment of the Constitution, as well as Supreme Court precedents.
“For these reasons, my office cannot undertake a defense of the Emergency Order,” the attorney general concluded.
New Mexico’s Senior U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, D-NM, also criticized the order via a short press release Monday. He made a similar argument to Torrez’s, implying that the order is unenforceable and would be ineffective.
“The gun violence in New Mexico and across our country has had devastating impacts on families, communities, and our sense of safety,” said Heinrich:
It’s why I led the effort on the first federal gun reform law passed in nearly three decades. There is more that can and should be done to stem the violence and ensure every American can feel safe at school, at the grocery store, or at the movie theatre. As we do that work, we need to focus on solutions that are constitutional and enforceable. That’s what will save lives.
Sheriff John Allen of Bernalillo County, a Democrat, went on the record saying that he would not enforce the order. “While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” he said.
“I am wary of placing my deputies in positions that could lead to civil liability conflicts, as well as the potential risks posed by prohibiting law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right to self-defense,” the sheriff added.
Bernalillo County is the area Lujan Grisham’s order would directly affect. It is the most populous county in New Mexico and includes the city of Albuquerque. Per The Daily Wire, the governor’s order “unilaterally suspended open and concealed carry laws” in the county for 30 days.
Torrez, Heinrich, and Allen are not the only Democrats to slam Lujan Grisham’s executive order as unconstitutional.
On Saturday, two days after the Democratic New Mexico governor signed the order, pro-gun control Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA, posted on X (formerly known as Twitter): “I support gun safety laws. However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution.”
“No state in the union can suspend the federal Constitution,” Lieu added. “There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”
Leftist gun control activist David Hogg also condemned the order in a post to X: “There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution.”
Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman said he would not enforce the order, calling it “clearly unconstitutional.”
Bregman was notably appointed to his position by Lujan Grisham earlier this year, succeeding Torrez, who was elected attorney general. Bregman is the former Chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party.