After announcing a controversial emergency order curtailing the right of residents in Albuquerque to carry firearms in public, Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham immediately received bipartisan pushback.
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. There is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution. https://t.co/kOhLMtaOl2
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 9, 2023
She claimed that it was her prerogative to suspend open and concealed carry provisions in response to an uptick in violent crime, but numerous legal scholars, law enforcement officers and public officials disagree.
Most recently, state Attorney General Raul Torrez wrote a letter to the governor informing her that he would not defend the order in court.
“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 wrote. “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.”
In just the first few days after Grisham made the announcement, four federal lawsuits have already been filed and at least two more are reportedly coming.
Aside from representing a clear infringement of citizens’ constitutional rights, Torrez asserted that the order would not have a measurable impact on crime in the city.
“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,” he wrote.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen echoed Torrez’s assessment during a new conference on Monday, three days after he stood beside Grisham during her announcement of the order.
“It’s unconstitutional, so there’s no way we can enforce that order,” Allen declared. “This ban does nothing to curb gun violence.”
The governor appears to remain resolute, however, and expressed anticipation for many of the legal challenges her administration now faces.
“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,” she said on Friday.