At Townhall: Do Gun Laws Apply to Gun Control Organizations in New Mexico?

Dec 22, 2023 | op-ed

Kerry Slone, The CPRC’s Director of Education, has an op-ed at Townhall.

Apparently in New Mexico, it is acceptable to break gun control laws if the actions of the organizations benefit Governor Lujan’s plan to disarm New Mexicans. Recently, an organization called New Mexicans Against Gun Violence (NMPGV) violated New Mexico law by going door to door in Farmington and asked residents to volunteer to relinquish ownership of their firearms in exchange for gift cards. Initially partnered with the Farmington Police Department, the event was cancelled as it bypassed a city council decision for approval.

Despite the cancellation, NMPGV took to the neighborhoods with $26,000 worth of gift cards and previously published offers of $100 gift cards for long guns & pistols, $200 for semi-automatic handguns and rifles or a $250 gift card for “assault weapons”.  During a radio interview, Miranda Viscoli, President of NMPGV, said that 9 firearms were surrendered and posted one photo across multiple social media platforms, showing five rifles from one home. She also stated that the non-profit typically has assistance from law enforcement to conduct the required background checks; however, law enforcement did not participate and NMPGV unlawfully took possession of the firearms.  

For an organization whose mission includes education, advocacy, and public awareness, their actions fall short of demonstrating understanding of applicable regulations surrounding firearms. Ironically, the admitted actions of Ms. Viscoli violated the very elements of the 2019 bill that she championed and praised its adoption into law.  New Mexico law requires all private sales to go through a background check though a Federally licensed firearm dealer, also known as an FFL. Without the cooperation and assistance by any law enforcement agency, NMPGV’s actions met the legal definition of the passing of ownership, possession, or control of a firearm for a fee or other consideration. 

Once in NMPGV’s possession, they documented also being in violation of the ATF’s acceptable destruction procedures:

— Use an oxy/acetylene torch (not band sawed).

— Must remove at least ¼ inch of metal per cut.

— Must be made at angles and completely sever the receiver in at least 3 critical locations (specified by model).

A photo showed that the collected firearms failed to be adequately destroyed per ATF regulation. This was not a rare occurrence for the organization.  Numerous examples of improper destruction of firearms can be found on the group’s social media pages.  

When I spoke with New Mexico State Representative Stefani Lord (R-District 22) after hearing about this event, she said, “New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence has pushed for unconstitutional gun laws in New Mexico. The hypocrisy is that they may have violated the very laws they wanted by not doing a background check for the transfer of firearms.  Also, since no Law Enforcement was there, we can assume she did not do a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check to know if she is now in possession of stolen firearms.”   She also confronted the organization directly on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the alleged illegal activity. She also called on the FBI and ATF to open an investigation into the “buyback” since a private group allegedly violated the law.  

After the post and photo gained national attention and considerable commentary, the San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari opened an investigation into NMPGV’s recent actions. Shortly after the announcement of the investigation, the Sheriff said, “I don’t have anything against New Mexico to prevent Gun Violence folks” and “I just need to make sure they are operating lawfully, like everyone else”. . . .

Kerry Slone, “At Townhall: Do Gun Laws Apply to Gun Control Organizations in New Mexico?,” Townhall, December 20, 2023.

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