New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez told Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham he won’t defend her executive order suspending open and concealed carry across Albuquerque and the surrounding Bernalillo County for at least 30 days, saying he believes it’s unconstitutional.
Grisham announced on Sept. 7 that she needed to respond to recent gun-related deaths, which include an 11-year-old boy who was shot and killed while outside a minor league baseball stadium on Wednesday night.
The suspension of open and concealed carry in the defined area is being classified as an emergency public health order.
Torrez, a Democrat himself, wrote the letter to Grisham on Tuesday, stating he won’t defend her administration in two lawsuits concerning the executive order.
“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.”
While the attorney general says that he grieves with victims of gun violence, Torrez wrote that Grisham shouldn’t be making executive orders such as the one she signed last week.
“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.
In the four-page letter, Torrez also told Grisham it’s “unwise to stretch the definition of a ‘public health emergency’ to encompass something that is fundamentally a public safety issue.”
Torrez said that the executive order is “near certain” to violate the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
Responding to criticism, Grisham’s press secretary Caroline Sweeney told Fox News Digital on Tuesday that her office received the letter, but said the governor didn’t ask Torrez to defend the order in court.
“The governor’s office received the letter from the Attorney General Torrez and let me be clear – Gov. Lujan Grisham did not ask the attorney general to represent the state,” Sweeney said. “The governor is looking for state leaders to step up and take bold steps to make New Mexicans safer from the scourge of gun violence. We invite the Attorney General to turn his attention to that effort.”
Sweeney said on Sunday that the order “does not suspend the Constitution but instead state laws over which the governor has jurisdiction.”
“The governor is looking for proactive partners who will bring solutions to the table – not naysayers who have no real answers to the gun violence epidemic we are faced with,” Sweeney said. “She was elected to serve the people of New Mexico, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t hear from a constituent asking for more to be done to curb this horrific violence. If Ted Lieu is so interested in addressing this issue, we invite him to join our next police academy class in January.”
Republican state Reps. Stefani Lord and John Block announced on Sept. 9 that they are calling for the governor to be impeached.
“I am calling on counsel to begin the impeachment process against Governor Grisham,” Lord said. “This is an abhorrent attempt at imposing a radical, progressive agenda on an unwilling populous. Rather than addressing crime at its core, Governor Grisham is restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Even Grisham believes this emergency order won’t prohibit criminals from carrying or using weapons; a basic admission that this will only put New Mexicans in danger as they won’t be able to defend themselves from violent crime.”
Speaking with Fox News Digital, Lord said that Grisham is a “rogue governor.”
The National Association for Gun Rights and Foster Haines, a resident of Albuquerque, announced on Saturday they filed a lawsuit against Grisham and New Mexico Secretary of Health Patrick Allen, arguing the emergency order is unconstitutional. They are asking for a temporary restraining order against the measure to be issued.
Fox News Digital reached out to Grisham’s office for comment.
Fox News’ Houston Knee contributed to this report.