BREAKING: New Mexico AG says he won't defend governor in lawsuits over ban on carrying guns

"My duty to uphold and defend the constitutional rights of every citizen takes precedence."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

In a letter sent to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday, state Attorney General Raul Torrez said that his office would not be defending her administration in lawsuits related to her blocking the carrying of firearms.

"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 9the Emergency Order) issued by the Secretary of Health on September 8, 2023," the letter stated.

"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."

Torrez explained that he has "grieved with too many victims of gun violence" as a career prosecutor in the state "not to share your anger and frustration at the unacceptable toll that gun violence has enacted, especially among the youngest members of our community."

He recalled the recent deaths of two children to gun violence, and said this "should serve as a wakeup call to everyone."

"However, I encourage you to engage in a more thoughtful and deliberate 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 discernable impact on the underlying dynamics driving gun violence in our community."

Torres said that the order "prevents individuals from carrying firearms in public for the purpose of self-defense," adding that the reach of the order is "problematic because it purports to alter lawful firearm possession in ways that are inconsistent with Federal and State Constitutions."

The Attorney General also noted the public’s response to public health restrictions during the pandemic, "I believe it is unwise to stretch the definition of a 'public health emergency' to encompass something that is fundamentally a public safety issue." 

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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