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.

This post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, by New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence led to calls for an investigation into whether the anti-gun group violated laws requiring background checks before gun transactions. The group says the door-to-door transactions are legal and it has “been doing this for years.”

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether a Santa Fe-based gun violence prevention organization violated a state law on firearms transactions — raising questions about the legality of the group’s gun buyback program that for years has received accolades.

New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence had championed a bill creating the law, which requires background checks for most private firearms transactions.

“I don’t have anything against the New Mexicans [to Prevent] Gun Violence folks,” San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari said Monday.

“I just need to make sure they’re operating lawfully like everyone else,” added the sheriff, who said he personally doesn’t believe gun buybacks curb crime.

The investigation comes after the organization posted late Saturday on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, it had gone house by house in Farmington to dismantle “unwanted firearms” after the city government pulled the plug on a gun buyback event.

“Our gun buyback was canceled by the City, but local residents asked us to show up anyway,” states the post, which included a photo of several firearms that had been cut in half.

The post, which has generated more than 1 million impressions so far, led to calls for an investigation, including from Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park.

New Mexico State Police “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,” wrote Lord, a staunch gun rights advocate.

She also called for the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office to look into the matter.

“So many crimes committed by this anti-gun group,” Lord wrote.

The organization also came under fire by the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association and others.

“Shoutout to [New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence] for joining forces with the ‘rogue sheriffs’ and ‘bad-faith critics’ by refusing to comply with laws criminalizing private firearm transfers in NM,” the group wrote, referring to past opposition from law enforcement officials to various gun-control measures the Legislature has considered.


At issue is a bill passed by the Legislature in 2019.

The bill, signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, requires a background check when conducting a sale of a firearm. It allows for four exceptions, including sales involving a law enforcement agency and transactions between immediate family members.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat who co-sponsored the 2019 legislation, said the intent of the law was never to require background checks when someone seeks to destroy their own gun.

“Ultimately, it would be up to the courts to review the specific facts and statutory language assuming there is a challenge to the law,” he said in a statement.

Ferrari doesn’t believe the law includes an exception for the advocacy organization.

“Reviewing the law I do not see where they are exempt from having to undergo a background check and are required to like anyone else,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “A sale is taking place (gift cards $100 and up), it is advertised as a purchase and called a ‘buy back.’ “

Ferrari said he’s waiting for an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Raúl Torrez did not return a message seeking comment.

“In the law, it says anything of ‘consideration,’ which means anything of value,” Ferrari said. “People expect to give up their gun and get something in return. It’s a sale. But the law says that a background check has to take place prior to possession, so there’s no backgrounds being done, but a transaction is being made.”

Ferrari described gun buyback programs as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“You can get rid of it yourself,” he said. “You can go buy a chop saw and do it yourself. The government’s going to pay $200, $300 for a gun that a pawn shop won’t even buy from you because it’s such a piece of junk.”

Lord accused New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence of repeatedly advocating for gun laws she said primarily punish legal gun owners.

“Ironically, they may have criminally violated the very laws they campaigned for,” she said, citing Ferrari’s investigation.

Lord also questioned whether the organization checked with the National Crime Information Center to determine whether the guns it dismantled had been stolen or used in a crime.

“Based on the pictures NMPGV showed on social media about the buyback,” she said, “it appears they may now have illegal short-barreled rifles in their possession.”

Viscoli said she felt obligated to travel to Farmington after City Manager Rob Mayes announced he was suspending the gun buyback event last week. Mayes said he and the city’s police chief determined it was apparent “the program had not received enough advance education and community collaboration prior to scheduling this event,” based on questions from the public.

Viscoli said the buyback event had been in the works for more than two years.

“There were four different people who really wanted to get rid of firearms for safety reasons,” she said. “I felt it was my moral obligation to follow through on that, so I went to their homes — in front of them, with a chop saw, made sure the guns weren’t loaded and cut them up. That is all we did.”

Source: Daniel J. Chacón, santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/san-juan-sheriff-probes-advocacy-groups-gun-buybacks-in-farmington/article_dc51ecc2-9dd5-11ee-91b3-d378f935fd86.html

H/T: Langley Outdoors Academy