Gun Control Group Under Investigation For Possibly Breaking Law With Buyback Program
Smith & Wesson M&P-15 semi-automatic rifles of the AR-15 style are displayed during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in Houston, Texas on May 28, 2022. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

A gun control group is being investigated by a New Mexico sheriff for running a gun buyback program.

San Juan County Sheriff R. Shane Ferrari announced in a statement posted to Facebook last week that he is looking into New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence (NMPGV) over the possibility that the group violated a state law mandating a background check for most firearm transfers.

“I want to inform you that I am investigating San Juan County citizens’ complaints on ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ gun buyback program not complying with New Mexico State Law 30-7-7.1 ‘Unlawful sale of a firearm without a background check,’” the sheriff wrote.

NMPGV ran a private gun buyback program in Farmington, New Mexico, in which representatives went door-to-door offering gift cards in return for gun owners to turn over their firearms. The group said it disassembled any firearms that it received, according to The Reload.

New Mexico’s universal background check law was signed in 2019 by Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The law’s exemptions are narrowly limited to law enforcement, those with federal firearms licenses, and transfers between immediate family members.

“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. A sale is taking place (gift cards $100 and up), it is advertised as a purchase and called a ‘buy back,’” the sheriff’s post said.

“Some may question the exemption ‘to law enforcement’ meaning if we (law enforcement) purchases the gun we don’t need a background check,” the sheriff continued. “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.”

NMPGV expressed regret that the sheriff had chosen to investigate the group in a post on social media.

“It is tragic to see Sherif Ferrari care more about 9 destroyed guns than the safety of his community from gun violence,” the group said.

“Guns were destroyed at their homes.  Why this has so many holsters in a twist is beyond comprehension. Why aren’t we talking about the real issue of gun violence in Farmington and San Juan County. Crickets every time we ask those questions,” the group said in another post.

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