FIRST ON FOX: Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland step in and protect the Second Amendment rights of New Mexico residents following Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order temporarily banning open and concealed carry.
“Governor Grisham has issued an order which is being used to blatantly trample on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of New Mexico, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) must act swiftly to stop this unconstitutional power grab,” a group of Republican senators wrote to Garland on Wednesday in a letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital.
The letter was spearheaded by Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who was joined by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.
“By preventing certain New Mexicans from exercising their constitutional rights to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home, Governor Grisham is violating the Second Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article IV of the Constitution,” the senators continued.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) departs from a luncheon with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on June 1, 2023 in Washington, D.C.(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images )
“This is a chilling action, and it is imperative that your Department act immediately to show that this kind of unconstitutional abuse will not be tolerated in New Mexico or anywhere else in the United States.”
Lujan Grisham temporarily suspended open and concealed carry laws in Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located, for at least 30 days in an executive order announced Friday. The announcement was spurred by 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.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during an interview at her office in Santa Fe, New Mexico.(Photographer: Steven St John/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The announcement shocked New Mexico residents, with more than 100 people forming a protest in Old Town Albuquerque on Sunday, where they defied the order and openly carried firearms. Protesters formed another rally Tuesday on Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza.
Gun rights groups have also slammed the governor as enacting an “unconstitutional” order that stripped law-abiding citizens of their rights to bear arms.
“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. Instead of undermining the fundamental rights of law-abiding New Mexicans, she should address the soft-on-criminal policies which truly endanger its citizens,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch told Fox News Digital earlier this week.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at a press conference in June.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The governor has been hit with at least four lawsuits over the order, which all argue the rule defies the U.S. Constitution.
“Gov. Luhan Grisham is throwing up a middle finger to the Constitution and the Supreme Court,” said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, one of the groups that filed a suit against Lujan Grisham.
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.”
The Democratic governor has also come under fire from members of her own party, including California Rep. Ted Lieu, who posted this week that the order “violates the U.S. Constitution,” and liberal gun control activist David Hogg, who echoed the California lawmaker.
Democratic New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez additionally sent Lujan Grisham a letter this week outlining that he will not defend her administration against the recent lawsuits because he believes the order does not pass “constitutional muster.”
Democratic New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez speaks at a news conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 18, 2023.(Jon Austria/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)
“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,” New Mexico AG Raul Torrez wrote in his letter to Lujan Grisham.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Republican senators added in their letter to Garland that the fatal shooting of an 11-year-old boy in New Mexico this month was “horrific” and “inexcusable,” and said they would work with the Department of Justice to “combat violent crime in communities across the nation.” The senators, however, continued that the governor overstepped her bounds in issuing the order and called on Garland to uphold and enforce the Constitution.
“While the public health order may invoke state law to authorize this unconstitutional infringement, it should be no match for the authority which the DOJ has to enforce our rights under the U.S. Constitution. That is why we are calling on you to enforce the Constitution and intervene on behalf of the constitutional rights of New Mexicans to stop this unconstitutional act from standing,” the senators said.