New Mexico Sheriff investigates possible law violation in gun buyback program

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By Carina

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari has initiated an investigation into the activities of gun control advocates New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence (NMPGV), suspecting their recent gun buyback event may have violated state gun control laws. 

The investigation revolves around concerns that the group’s efforts to buy back and dismantle firearms could be unlawful.

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Cancellation of planned event and alternative approach

Initially, NMPGV planned a gun buyback event in collaboration with the city of Farmington, scheduled for December 8. However, Farmington Mayor Rob Mayes canceled the event just two days prior. 

Undeterred, NMPGV activists opted for an alternative approach, going door-to-door independently to collect and dismantle unwanted firearms. 

The group’s actions attracted the attention of law enforcement due to potential violations of state gun control regulations.

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Sheriff Ferrari raises concerns about  unlawful firearms transfers

Sheriff Ferrari, in a Facebook post on December 17, expressed his concerns about the potential violation of state laws. 

He highlighted the issue of firearms transfers without background checks, emphasizing that the gift cards provided in exchange for firearms could be viewed as unlawful sales. 

Ferrari raised questions about the group’s compliance with background check requirements.

Legal implications of firearms dismantling 

NMPGV defended its actions on social media, claiming that no actual firearms transfers occurred, as the group dismantled the collected firearms “onsite” at each home. 

Sheriff Ferrari countered, stating that law enforcement agencies, even in buyback programs, cannot immediately provide firearms for destruction without following a legal process, which includes obtaining a court order.

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Sheriff Ferrari’s engagement with legal authorities

Acknowledging the complexities, Sheriff Ferrari reached out to legal authorities, including the New Mexico state attorney general, the San Juan County district attorney, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. 

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The aim is to seek legal opinions on the legality of NMPGV’s activities and whether any charges should be filed against the group.

NMPGV responds to Sheriff Ferrari’s investigation with criticism

NMPGV responded to the sheriff’s investigation, criticizing him for allegedly prioritizing the concern over destroyed guns rather than community safety from gun violence. 

The exchange underscores the tension between gun control advocates and law enforcement over interpreting and enforcing firearms-related regulations.

Gun buyback programs spark legal debate

As the investigation unfolds, the clash between NMPGV’s gun buyback efforts and law enforcement’s interpretation of state laws highlights the ongoing debate surrounding gun control measures. 

The outcome of legal opinions sought by Sheriff Ferrari will likely shape the narrative around firearm buyback programs and their compliance with existing regulations.

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