It’s fair to say that New Mexico probably wouldn’t even have a “universal” background check law in place were it not for the advocacy and agitation of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, which makes the accusations that the gun control group violated the law in question even more amusing to me.
The group was supposed to hold a gun “buyback” in Farmington, New Mexico this past weekend, but after the city council hit the brakes in response to an uproar from citizens, the anti-gunners decided to move forward with their plans without the involvement of the local police.
Pictured are unwanted firearms from one household in Farmington, NM. Our gun buyback was cancelled by the City, but local residents asked us to show up anyway. So, we spent today dismantling guns house by house. #GunsToGardens @vivarioarriba pic.twitter.com/YlgwT9qaxV
— NMPGV (@NMPGVnow) December 17, 2023
New Mexico State Rep. Stefani Lord was one of the first to call out the gun control group for failing to abide by the very laws its members support.
The @NMStatePolice should investigate a private party going door to door and sawing people’s guns in half without doing a background check as required for a transfer in New Mexico. The @FBI and @ATFHQ should also look into this since a private group does NOT have the ability to…
— Rep Stefani Lord (@Lord4NM) December 17, 2023
On today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, New Mexico Shooting Sports Association treasurer Zac Fort told me that not only does New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence appear to have taken possession of these firearms without going through a background check, which would be a violation of state law, but the guns that were “dismantled” by the group don’t appear to have been destroyed in line with ATF guidelines. If that’s the case, then they were still considered “firearms” under federal law and may have been illegally converted into short-barreled rifles. Some of them may even have been handed over to students in Albuquerque.
From @krqe @NMPGVnow provided guns, that are still legally considered to be firearms by the ATF, to a school in Albuquerque where they were given to students. @BerncoDa #nmpol #2ahttps://t.co/5g8M5SXp37
— NM Shooting Sports Association (@NM_SSA) December 19, 2023
The gun control group maintains that it didn’t violate the background check law since they “dismantled” the guns on-site. But if the firearms weren’t destroyed in line with the ATF’s guidelines (meaning the destruction of the frame or receiver), then neither the group nor its members were legally able to take possession of them, which appears to have been the case given a post on X from the group earlier today. Not only is there a record of NMPGV gifting “dismantled” firearms to students at Robert F. Kennedy Charter School to use in art projects, but as recently as today the group was posting on social media about artists reaching out to them (as opposed to the original gun owner) to “turn these guns” into art pieces.
— NMPGV (@NMPGVnow) December 19, 2023
San Juan County Sheriff R. Shane Ferrari is now investigating the activities of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. In a post on Facebook, Ferrari said that in reviewing the law he’s unable to find anything that would make the group or individual members exempt from having to undergo a background check if the firearms are being transferred.
A sale is taking place (gift cards $100 and up), it is advertised as a purchase and called a “buy back”. Some may question the exemption “to law enforcement” meaning if we (law enforcement) purchases the gun we don’t need a background check. This manly covers law enforcement purchasing duty guns. There are currently law enforcement agencies using tax dollars to purchase unwanted firearms (gun buyback) under the Governor’s current health order. Those are lawful and covered as exemptions in the law.
However, law enforcement is required to obtain a court order for destruction or other disposition. That process takes months. If ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ is going through law enforcement to purchase the unwanted firearms those must remain in that law enforcement agency’s custody until they obtain a destruction order. Law enforcement can not immediately give someone (including a non-profit group) a firearm for destruction or other means. If that were the case, you could give your gun to law enforcement and they could give it to the San Juan County Wildlife Federation for educational purposes or anyone. Either way I look at it, the law is not being followed.
I have reached out to ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ with questions. They have referred me to Attorney General Torrez. Both the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office are reviewing my assessment.
Fort tells Bearing Arms that he doesn’t want to see anyone, even gun control activists, prosecuted for violating the state’s “universal” background check mandate. Instead, he’d like to use the current controversy as a teachable moment about the unintended consequences of gun control laws for anti-gun activists and legislators alike.
“We have thousands of gun control laws. We don’t need more of them,” Fort said. “I don’t know if it gives these people a warm, fuzzy feeling to cut these guns in half, but at the end of the day a gun is wood, metal, and plastic. That’s all it is. It’s a very heavily regulated series of wood, metal, and plastic pieces, but that’s all it is. And we really don’t need any more regulations because the people pushing for those regulations don’t even know what they are. And it appears they may have violated quite a few of those regulations that they don’t even realize exist.”
They’re pushing for even more regulations in the upcoming 30-day legislative session, including a state-level version of the “GOSAFE Act” that would ban the production and sale of almost every center-fire semi-automatic rifle in existence. Fort says that defeating that proposed gun ban and other anti-2A legislation like expanding the state’s “red flag” law is the top priority of the NMSSA, not prosecuting the head of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence or other members who participated in “dismantling” guns in exchange for gift cards. I’d be surprised if any anti-gun activist ends up facing misdemeanor charges, but that depends on the results of Sheriff Ferrari’s investigation more than anything else.
Check out the entire conversation with Zac Fort in the video window below, and stay tuned to find out what the sheriff’s investigation turns up. While the anti-gun group is vowing to continue its door-to-door “dismantling”, they might not be so eager to defend their practice in court if it comes to that.