Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico just signed a public health order that bans carrying firearms, even for licensed concealed carry holders, in the city of Albuquerque and its surrounding county. Now, following the lead of the sheriff who said he wouldn’t enforce it, the AG of New Mexico, a Democrat, said he will not defend the order in court.
New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez announced as much in a letter to the governor on Tuesday, saying that the order banning the carrying of firearms in Bernalillo County violates both the state constitution and the federal constitution and so he will not defend the governor in court.
Beginning the letter, he said, “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.”
Continuing, he made the same point as the sheriff and said it was both unconstitutional and likely to not be at all effective at reducing crime in Albuquerque, saying, “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.”
AG Torrez then made the point that he finds the death of young children to crime terrible, saying, “The tragic deaths of 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego in a recent drive-by shooting and 11-year-old Froylan Villegas in a road rage incident should serve as a wakeup call to everyone.”
But, he continued, the goals should be to pass thoughtful and legal legislation that handles the problem, not wild orders that don’t pass constitutional muster. He said, “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 added that he believes there is a need to discuss gun control, “but the issuance of an executive order in violation of core constitutional principles is not the appropriate method for bringing about such a debate, and its flawed legal foundation is likely to obscure rather than highlight, meaningful solutions.”
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen announced that he would not enforce the law, saying in a press conference, “It’s unconstitutional, so there’s no way we can enforce that order. This ban does nothing to curb gun violence.” Reiterating that point, he added, “This order will not do anything to curb gun violence other than punish law-abiding citizens from their constitutional right of self-defense.”
Continuing, he added, “The governor made it clear in her press conference. She knew we as law enforcement did not agree with the order, and as a result, this was solely her decision.” He then said, “We need to look at solutions to address violent crimes involving juveniles with firearms, adults with firearms, pretrial release and harsh penalties for violent crimes which also involve a firearm.”
Featured image credit: By AFGE – #Handsoff Budget Rally, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63359561
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