Democrats have largely united in protest of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s surprise order to temporarily suspend the right to carry firearms in public, which was issued in response to the recent killings of two children in separate shootings.
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced that he would not defend the governor’s order. Torrez urged Lujan Grisham to reconsider her course of action and focus on developing comprehensive legislation instead of branding gun violence as a public health emergency to justify the prohibition against carrying firearms.
Torrez stated, “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. 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.”
Top law enforcement officials, including Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen and Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, said they won’t enforce the order because they believe it violates constitutional rights.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) recently issued a statement that said gun violence is a problem in New Mexico but implied the governor’s executive order is an unworkable solution that won’t save lives. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) expressed a similar sentiment, stating: “I support gun safety laws. However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution.”
New Mexico is an open carry state, so the governor’s order affects anyone in Bernalillo County who can legally own a gun, with some exceptions. The New Mexico Chiefs of Police Association called for a special legislative session to tackle gun violence, arguing that focusing on lawbreakers rather than curtailing the rights of every citizen would be a more effective approach.