In the latest pushback against New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's gun ban, the state’s attorney general says he will not defend the governor's administration against lawsuits challenging the abrupt restriction on firearms.
Attorney General Raúl Torrez in a letter Tuesday notified Lujan Grisham, a fellow Democrat, of his opposition to her 30-day ban on the right to carry open or concealed firearms in and around Albuquerque, the state's largest city.
"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," he wrote.
Lujan Grisham issued a public health order to suspend allowing open carry and concealed firearms in public spaces in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County for 30 days, arguing that “gun violence and drug use constitute conditions of public health importance.”
With an average of 415 annual deaths from gunshots, New Mexico has the seventh-highest rate of gun deaths in the country, according to a 2021 report from the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Since Lujan Grisham's announcement, gun rights advocates, including the National Association for Gun Rights, have sued the governor. Legislators from both sides of the aisle also have criticized the order, questioning its constitutionality.
Torrez said in his letter that the order would be inconsistent with the federal and state constitutions and that data does not support the notion that law-abiding citizens’ right to carry firearms is the cause of gun violence.
“Given that only responsible gun owners are likely to abide, much less recognize your ban, it is unclear how this action will lead to a measurable decline in gun violence in our community,” he wrote, urging Lujan Grisham to reconsider her order.
Reached for comment, Lujan Grisham's office said New Mexico needs leaders to address gun violence.
"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," press secretary Caroline Sweeney said in a statement. "We invite the Attorney General to turn his attention to that effort."