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New Mexico Sheriff Probes Gun Buyback Program for Potential Violations

Sheriff Investigates New Mexico Gun Buyback Program

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In a recent development, San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari has initiated an inquiry into the activities of gun control advocates from New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence (NMPGV). The investigation is centered around concerns that the group’s gun buyback event may have transgressed New Mexico’s gun control laws, specifically those governing background checks for firearm transfers.

Sheriff’s Announcement

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Sheriff Ferrari, taking to Facebook on December 17, publicly disclosed the commencement of a comprehensive investigation into the gun buyback event conducted by NMPGV. He voiced apprehensions that the event might have breached a state law that expressly prohibits the transfer of firearms without the requisite background checks.

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NMPGV’s Gun Buyback Event

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Originally intended to be held in collaboration with the city of Farmington, the gun buyback event faced an unexpected twist when Farmington Mayor Rob Mayes decided to cancel it just two days before its scheduled occurrence. The cancellation prompted NMPGV to reevaluate its approach to firearm disposal.

Unconventional Approach

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Undeterred by the cancellation, NMPGV activists adopted an unconventional approach by going door-to-door to collect and dismantle unwanted firearms. Their method involved offering gift cards in exchange for the guns they claimed to have gathered. This unorthodox strategy raised eyebrows and triggered the sheriff’s scrutiny.

Legal Concerns

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Sheriff Ferrari raised legitimate concerns that NMPGV’s actions might potentially constitute unlawful firearms sales. This concern stems from NMPGV activists distributing gift cards as compensation for firearms collected during their door-to-door initiative. The sheriff questioned the legality of this form of compensation in the context of firearm transactions.

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NMPGV’s Defense

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As accusations of unlawful firearm transfers began to circulate, NMPGV took to social media to staunchly defend their actions. They asserted that no actual firearm transfers occurred during their door-to-door campaign and clarified that firearms were dismantled “onsite.” This attempt to explain their actions introduces a debate on what constitutes a firearm transfer.

Law Enforcement Exemptions

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In his explanation, Sheriff Ferrari highlighted that law enforcement officers enjoy exemptions from the law requiring background checks. However, he underscored the importance of adherence to proper procedures in firearm buyback programs. This emphasizes the contrasting standards applied to law enforcement agencies and external entities participating in similar initiatives.

Firearms Disposal Process

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Elaborating on the legal process, Sheriff Ferrari emphasized that law enforcement agencies are bound by the requirement to obtain a court order for the destruction or alternative disposition of firearms collected during buyback events. This legal procedure adds complexity to the disposal process and raises questions about adherence to such regulations.

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Federal Law Compliance

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Sheriff Ferrari expressed reservations about whether the firearms collected by NMPGV adhered to federal law guidelines regarding proper dismantling. He questioned the compliance of the collected firearms with federal regulations. This highlights the multi-layered regulatory landscape that firearm disposal initiatives must navigate, involving state and national considerations.

NMPGV’s Response

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In response to the sheriff’s investigation, NMPGV took a defensive stance, criticizing Sheriff Ferrari for seemingly prioritizing the destruction of nine guns over community safety from gun violence. This exchange underscores the tension between law enforcement priorities and the advocacy group’s mission, raising broader questions about the role of such groups in shaping policy.

Legal Consultation

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As the investigation unfolds, Sheriff Ferrari has contacted legal authorities, including the New Mexico state attorney general, the San Juan County district attorney, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The aim is to seek their professional opinions on the legality of NMPGV’s recent efforts. This step underscores the sheriff’s commitment to ensuring a thorough and impartial examination.

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Raising Critical Questions

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The ongoing investigation underscores the legal complexities surrounding NMPGV’s gun buyback program. The controversy raises critical questions about the intersection of gun control advocacy and the imperative to comply with firearm regulations. This case is a microcosm of the broader debate on how different entities navigate the legal landscape surrounding firearms.

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