Gun-control activists from New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence (NMPGV) are under investigation for a private gun buyback event that may have violated New Mexico’s gun laws.
San Juan County Sheriff R. Shane Ferrari has initiated a formal investigation to determine if the exchange of gift cards for firearms without conducting background checks was illegal under state law.
Private buyback event raises legal questions
The incident has raised concerns about the inadvertent violation of gun laws by gun-control advocates.
Sheriff Ferrari’s investigation is a response to citizens’ complaints regarding NMPGV’s potential non-compliance with New Mexico State Law 30-7-7.1, which pertains to the “unlawful sale of a firearm without a background check.”
Accidental violations and previous instances
This case mirrors previous instances where gun-control advocates or reporters unintentionally violated gun laws.
Notable incidents include NBC News anchor David Gregory’s near-arrest for possessing a 30-round magazine and the producers of a Katie Couric documentary accused of breaking federal law by purchasing handguns across state lines.
NMPGV’s private door-to-door buyback event
NMPGV conducted a private door-to-door gun buyback event in Farmington, New Mexico, after the official buyback, planned in partnership with the City of Farmington, was canceled due to public backlash.
The group proceeded with an informal private buyback, potentially making them criminally liable under the state’s universal background check statute.
Legal framework and Sheriff Ferrari’s concerns
New Mexico’s universal background check statute, signed into law in 2019, requires a federal background check for any firearm ownership transfer, whether commercial or private.
Sheriff Ferrari pointed out that narrow exemptions, such as law enforcement and transfers between immediate family members, could make the private buyback illegal.
NMPGV’s gun dismantling process under scrutiny
NMPGV criticized the investigation on social media, emphasizing their dismantling process as not constituting a firearm transfer.
However, Sheriff Ferrari raised concerns about how the group dismantled firearms, especially if they were improperly deactivated, potentially violating federal law. The ATF sets specific guidelines for proper firearm destruction.
Forwarding information to state officials
Sheriff Ferrari has forwarded information about the private buyback to state officials and is awaiting opinions from the District Attorney and the Attorney General regarding the program’s lawfulness and the proper disposition of abandoned or unclaimed property.
The investigation highlights the challenges faced by gun-control groups in navigating legal frameworks while advocating for their cause.