Monday, December 11, 2023

New Mexico Democratic AG says he won’t defend unconstitutional gun order

The Democratic Attorney General of New Mexico says he will not defend a controversial gun control measure enacted by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. 

New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez told the fellow Democrat in a letter that he thinks the gun control executive order she signed last week is unconstitutional, joining a bevy of Democrats who feel the same way.

“I am writing to inform you that my office will not defend your administration in the above-referenced cases challenging the Public Health Emergency Order Imposing Temporary Firearm Restrictions, Drug Monitoring and Other Public Safety Measures (the Emergency Order) issued by the Secretary of Health on September 8, 2023,” Torrez wrote. “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.”

The executive order Lujan Grisham signed banned carrying a loaded firearm in public in Bernalillo County, including Albuquerque, for 30 days. People who violate the rule face a civil fine of $5,000, as The Center Square previously reported.

Although Torrez thinks the executive order violates the Second Amendment, he encouraged Lujan Grisham to pursue measures to reduce gun violence through legal means.

“However, 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. 

Other notable Democrats publicly opposing the executive order include U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, and liberal gun control activist David Hogg.

Heinrich sees the executive order as an unworkable solution that won’t save lives.

“The gun violence in New Mexico and across our country has had devastating impacts on families, communities, and our sense of safety,” Heinrich said in a press release from his office. “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.”

Conversely, Allen said Monday that his department will not enforce the governor’s 30-day ban, arguing that it violates the Second Amendment.

“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Allen told ABC. “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.”

Additionally, Lieu thinks the courts will strike down the executive order.

“I support gun safety laws,” Lieu posted on social media. “However, this order from the Governor of New Mexico violates the U.S. Constitution.”

Lieu cited the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2022 N.Y. State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision as a reason why this executive order is unconstitutional. The court struck down a New York law requiring applicants to show “proper cause” for getting a permit to carry a gun in the case.

“Whether or not we agree with it, the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Constitution are the law of the land,” wrote Lieu.

Plus, Hogg, who publicly supports pro-gun control Democrats, thinks the governor’s measure goes too far.

“I support gun safety, but there is no such thing as a state public health emergency exception to the U.S. Constitution,” Hogg posted on social media.