NRA gets unanimous GOP backing in suit to dismantle governor’s ‘unlawful’ gun order
FIRST ON FOX: The National Rifle Association hit Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham with a lawsuit Thursday in the state's Supreme Court over an 'unconstitutional' rule temporarily suspending open and concealed carry across Albuquerque and the surrounding county.
'Please rescind your unlawful and blatantly unconstitutional orders and uphold your oath to defend the constitutional rights of those in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Until then, we’ll see you in court,' NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch wrote to Lujan Grisham on Thursday, according to a letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital.
The suit, filed Thursday in the New Mexico Supreme Court, names Lujan Grisham, Chief of New Mexico State Police Troy Weisler and New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen.
The NRA was joined by every single GOP state House and Senate member, along with retired law enforcement, the Republican Party of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party of New Mexico as petitioners.
The lawsuit argues Lujan Grisham's gun order is unconstitutional and unlawful, and called on the state's highest court to 'issue an extraordinary writ invalidating' the order.
Lujan Grisham temporarily suspended open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located, for at least 30 days in a public health order announced Friday. The governor cited the fatal shootings of a 13-year-old girl in July, a 5-year-old girl in August and an 11-year-old boy this month as motivation behind the rule.
The governor has been hit with at least four other lawsuits over the order, all of which argue the rule defies the U.S. Constitution. On Wednesday, a federal judge appointed by President Biden blocked part of the public health order that suspended carrying firearms in public.
Lujan Grisham argued following the judge's ruling that she will 'stand up to protect families and children' from crimes involving guns.
'I refuse to be resigned to the status quo. As governor, I see the pain of families who lost their loved ones to gun violence every single day, and I will never stop fighting to prevent other families from enduring these tragedies,' she said.
Lujan Grisham said when she announced the order that she anticipated legal challenges and raised some eyebrows over her remarks on the Constitution.
'No constitutional right, in my view, including my oath, is intended to be absolute,' Lujan Grisham told a reporter who asked whether it’s 'unconstitutional' to order Americans not to exercise their right to bear arms.
Kozuch, the director of the NRA's lobbying arm, hit back in his letter to Lujan Grisham Thursday that the NRA 'strongly disagrees' with her comment that her oath is not 'absolute.'
'You claim that your oath to uphold the rights covered by these amendments is ‘not absolute.’ The National Rifle Association strongly disagrees. New Mexicans and other law-abiding Americans visiting or travelling through Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have an absolute right to carry the firearm of their choosing to defend themselves and their families,' he wrote.
The NRA pointed to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article II, Section 6 of the New Mexico state Constitution as both 'clearly' protecting 'the right of peaceable people to carry firearms for self-defense.'
Article II, Section 6 of the New Mexico Constitution states: '[n]o law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.'
Quickly following the announcement last week, Second Amendment groups, New Mexico residents, Democrats and even gun control activist David Hogg spoke out that the rule was unconstitutional.
'In a shocking move, Governor Lujan Grisham is suspending Second Amendment rights by administrative fiat, ignoring the U.S. Constitution and the New Mexico Constitution,' Kozuch told Fox News Digital earlier this week.
'Instead of undermining the fundamental rights of law-abiding New Mexicans, she should address the soft-on-criminal policies which truly endanger its citizens,' he added.
Kozuch again stressed in his letter Thursday that the governor should 'hold criminals responsible' for spreading violence, and highlighted that even the governor admitted in her press conference last week that criminals would not follow the 30-day gun ban.
'When announcing these orders, you claimed that they are meant to deal with the very real problem of violent crime in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Yet, in the very press conference where you made that claim, you admitted that the criminals responsible for that rising violence will not follow these orders,' he wrote.
'The NRA urges you to hold criminals responsible for the damage they inflict, but we will not stand by as you attempt to blame and restrict the rights of peaceful Americans who simply want to protect themselves, their families, and their community.'
The governor's press secretary Caroline Sweeney told Fox News Digital on Sunday that the 'order does not suspend the Constitution but instead state laws over which the governor has jurisdiction.' Sweeney added that the governor '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.'
Before the lawsuits against the order grew larger Thursday, New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez distanced himself from the governor, telling her he would not defend her administration in court.
'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,' Torrez wrote in his letter to Lujan Grisham this week.
The governor also does not have support from the Bernalillo County Sheriff, who called the order 'unconstitutional,' while Bernalillo County district attorney, the Albuquerque police chief, and Albuquerque mayor have all said they won’t enforce the order. Lujan Grisham said the state police would enforce the order, and that violations could carry a fine of up to $5,000.
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