Democratic New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez has refused to defend the governor’s emergency gun ban, claiming it violates citizens’ constitutional rights and will not hold up in court.
Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency Friday to ban citizens from carrying firearms in Albuquerque, the state capital, and Bernalillo County. The public health emergency is set to remain in effect for 30 days.
Torrez, who who received over $100,000 from a PAC affiliated with Democratic mega-donor George Soros in his previous race for Bernalillo County district attorney, announced his intention to not defend the emergency order in a Tuesday letter to Grisham.
“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 constitutional rights of every citizen takes precedence,” Torrez said. “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.”
BREAKING: New Mexico Attorney General tells the Governor that he won’t defend her carry ban, saying “I do not believe it passes constitutional muster.” pic.twitter.com/ORat27wAvn
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) September 12, 2023
The attorney general argued that branding gun violence as a “public health emergency” does not justify barring law-abiding citizens for carrying a firearm for self-defense purposes. He also accused the governor of misusing the Public Health Emergency Response Act (PHERA) which is intended to protect the public from “imminent threat or exposure to an extremely dangerous condition or a highly infectious or toxic agent, including a threatening communicable disease.” (RELATED: ‘You Said No’: CNN Host Confronts Grisham For Enforcing Gun Ban While Admitting Criminals Will Ignore It)
“Moreover, even if the problem is properly categorized as a ‘public health emergency,’ the data do not support the conclusion that gun violence in our community is attributable to otherwise law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right to carry firearms for protection outside the home,” the letter reads. On Tuesday morning, Grisham herself admitted during a CNN interview that she did not expect criminals to comply with the emergency order.
Torrez cited the U.S. Supreme Court cases McDonald v. City of Chicago, District of Columbia v. Heller, and New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen, which established a citizen’s right to publicly carry for personal protection.
“I urge you to reconsider this course of action and redouble your efforts to bring about lasting change through the democratic process,” he concluded. “I can and will commit the resources of the Attorney General’s Office to such an endeavor and stand ready to assist you in bundling a safer community without sacrificing the constitutional rights which we have sworn an oath to preserve, protect and defend.”
Some liberals, including Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg and Democratic California Rep. Ted Lieu, have also criticized Grisham’s gun ban.