February 25, 2024
Does everybody feel safer now? (New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence/Facebook)
Does everybody feel safer now? (New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence/Facebook)

“Pictured are unwanted firearms from one household in Farmington, NM,” New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence “Xed” Saturday. “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 was their “after action report” for their “Guns to Garden” program, intending to destroy guns and turn them into tools, reported on AmmoLand on Dec. 6, with the title observing “New Mexico Gun ‘Buyback’ an Exercise in Contradictions.”

“What, no background checks?” this correspondent asked at the time.  “Will there be an FFL on the premises to record transfers?”

“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,” State Representative Stefani Lord noted in response to the NMPGV post.  “The @FBI and @ATFHQ should also look into this since a private group does NOT have the ability to check NCIC to see if they are now in possession of a stolen firearm. So many crimes committed by this anti-gun group.  @newmexicooag  needs to look into this offense.”

“We have been doing this for years,” NMPGV shot back. “Often, police give people our phone number when they want to turn in an unwanted firearm. This doesn’t violate any background check laws as there is no transfer of firearms.  We simply dismantle them.  All that is left is wood and metal.”

“So, you’ve been breaking the law for years?” State Rep. John Block asked. He’s got a point. How can you “dismantle” guns if you don’t first take possession of them?

Gun owners were quick to join in, pointing out the hypocrisy of gun-grabbers allegedly breaking gun laws they lobbied for and the delicious irony of the prohibitionists “hoist with their own petard.” And it turns out Lord’s concerns were prescient.

“UPDATE: New Mexico Sheriff has opened an investigation into whether anti-gun group illegally purchased guns in violation of Universal Background Checks during a “buyback” and failed to destroy these firearms in a legal manner,” Gun Owners of America commented when forwarding the NMPGV announcement. “YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.”

“San Juan sheriff probes advocacy group’s gun buybacks in Farmington,” the Santa Fe New Mexican confirmed Monday. “[Sheriff Shane] 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,” Ferrari wrote on Facebook. “I’m awaiting the District Attorney and the Attorney General’s opinion on whether ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violences’ gun buyback program is operating lawfully and if law enforcement participation is following proper disposition of abandoned/ unclaimed property. I’ll let you know.”

“This is not an investigation into the City of Farmington,” Ferrari noted, confirming the NMPGV admission that the city had cancelled the buyback.’ “The City of Farmington listened to their citizens’ concerns and cancelled the event until they had more information and conversation with the community.”

What it will be, though, is an investigation of another key reality: That the nine guns collected (illegally transferred?) were not properly destroyed. Per KOB 4:

Ferrari says the group isn’t destroying the guns per ATF’s guidelines. “The picture they show [on X] shows a pile of guns that have been cut in half. Well, ATF doesn’t consider those guns destroyed. They can still consider that a firearm,” Ferrari said.

That makes fair a few more questions:

Have investigators taken the guns into custody yet? Are they still in the same condition as in the photo or have then been “legally” destroyed since it was taken? If so, by whom and when? If done after an investigation was announced and before being surrendered, would that constitute willful destruction of evidence?

The city had issued a media release announcing they were dropping out on Dec. 6, two days before the scheduled “buyback”:

City Suspends Plans for Gun Buyback Program

City Manager Rob Mayes has announced the suspension of plans to partner in a gun buyback program on Saturday, December 8, in the Farmington Police Department parking lot. Mayes stated, “Based on questions received from the public, Chief Hebbe and I determined it was apparent the program had not received enough advance education and community collaboration prior to scheduling this event.” He added, “We will continue to explore educational opportunities and options to assist the public with safely discarding unwanted firearms.”

And that ties into that earlier report from AmmoLand, which noted Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe’s curious admission: “Our role really is just to check the weapons, make sure that they’re not loaded, and I think sometimes inadvertently, that still does happen, because sometimes the people turning in guns aren’t really familiar with guns.”

“So, wait,” I wrote. “He’s acknowledging in advance that he and his department are knowingly creating conditions to tempt people who may not know the first thing about guns to handle and then transport them? If they don’t know if it’s loaded, what other rules are they oblivious to, and what’s the chief’s rationale to decide that doesn’t that endanger them and everyone around them?

“And if someone gets hurt or worse due to this deliberately indifferent incentivized ignorance, have they run the chief’s admission by their respective legal departments to consider against the familiar civil complaint words ‘knew or should have known’?”

I included that concern in my Dec. 6 X post publicizing the article a few hours before the city backed out, including a link to the article and notifying both the city and the police department.

“I wonder if the city attorney is willing to expose @CityofFmtnNM  to unsafe gun handling liability the @FPDNM  chief publicly confessed to,” the post stated. “Why not ask?”

We’ll see what excuses the various agencies come up with to show that ignorance of the law can be an excuse if you’re a gun-grabbing Democrat, as we watch NMPGV co-founder Miranda Viscoli turn more and more belligerently defensive about getting caught with gun-grabber egg on her face. But here’s the thing: Those of us opposed to infringements of the right of the people to keep and bear arms aren’t so much interested in seeing her and her cronies get frog marched into a holding cell (even though that’s exactly what they’d like see happen to us) as we are in working toward the day when each of us is free to go door to door, without any prior restraints, and ask homeowners if they have any unwanted guns they’d like to sell us.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea

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