New Mexico Gun Control Group Ignored BATFE Advice, Committed Felonies in Gun ‘Buyback’

by Tommy Grant

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In the past couple weeks we’ve been following the story of a New Mexico gun control group that broke a number of state and federal gun control laws. You can find details on the violations in our other coverage (see here), but here’s a quick example that illustrates the basic mistake the group made . . .

For those unfamiliar with the law, the “xylophone” on the right above has a complete AK receiver welded onto it. NMPGV traded a bunch of gift cards for firearms like that, didn’t comply with state laws concerning transfers, didn’t destroy the firearms properly, and then did things like move them over state lines, gave them to kids at schools for “art” projects, and otherwise escalated what would have been a state misdemeanor into into both state and federal felonies.

The group, of course, claims ignorance, but some recent public records sleuthing by the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association (NMSSA) reveals that ignorance isn’t quite the defense NMPGV think it is.

It turns out that the group had been in touch with BATFE and got advice from them about how to avoid accidentally committing crimes when destroying and disposing of firearms. You can find the full email they got from BATFE here, but here’s a screenshot with a relevant sentence highlighted:

What we don’t know is whether BATFE sent the group instructions for proper destruction along with this letter. But we do know that they were told to do a proper destruction job, which implies that there are ways to improperly destroy them.

This would lead most people to either ask for clarification or do a simple Google search. The first search result for “properly destroyed firearms” is this page from BATFE, which has this handy graphic . . .

As the “xylophone” above shows, ATF’s simple instructions weren’t followed, so everything the letter says about them being OK no longer applies. The people at NMPGV couldn’t be bothered to take the time to follow simple instructions to ensure they followed the law.

NMPGV violated private transfer laws in both New Mexico and Colorado. They took legal firearms onto school grounds and transferred them to children (felonies). They took pistols across at least one state line and transferred them to at least one resident of another state. They even “engaged in the business” without an FFL.

Why They Don’t Deserve The Benefit of the Doubt 

I know the group would like the benefit of prosecutorial discretion here and that both the Biden Administration and New Mexico’s governor would love to (and probably will) extend that to them. After all, NMPGV was only trying to do a “good” thing here (at least according to Democrat Party doctrine) and weren’t intentionally selling guns to kids, etc.

It looks like an honest mistake made by people whose hearts were in the “right” place and didn’t understand the complexities of state and federal gun control laws…which are a lot more complicated than they should be.

But that’s not the standard the Biden Administration has been applying to individuals and federal firearm license holders. Honest, simple mistakes like typos and conduct that lives in the grey areas of vaguely written laws are being used to shut down FFLs in record numbers. In some cases, the federal government is treating cooperative elderly dealers to property-destroying and life-endangering SWAT raids if they’re suspected of failing to comply. Even when federal judges tell BATFE that their zero tolerance application of the law is unnecessarily harsh and strict, the administration refuses to listen to reason.

So no, the NMPGV’s “honest mistake” argument isn’t going to fly here. When enforcement has been weaponized, destroying honest people in the firearms industry for political reasons, giving an anti-gun group a pass is well over the line of denying people the equal protection under the law that the Fourteenth Amendment requires.

That, of course, is based on a strict reading of the Fourteenth Amendment, something Democrats in Colorado and Maine seem all too happy to do these days as long as it’s Republicans who are the target.

The Only Fair Way To Resolve This

There is a way out, of course. The Biden DOJ and Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham will, of course, want to go easy and avoid prosecuting their likeminded friends. They won’t want to prosecute a bunch of well-meaning hoplophobes like those at NMPGV. That could get awkward.

The solution, then, is to stop prosecuting others for making similarly honest mistakes. And honest mistakes are extremely easy to make when federal gun laws (like so many others) are complex enough that they are hard even for lawyers and judges to wrap their heads around. These laws are designed to produce honest mistakes.

There are only two fair and just ways forward . . .

  • Prosecute the members of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence and hold them to the same strict standards as everyone else.
  • Pardon everyone who has broken these same needlessly complex laws and promptly repeal them.

Anything else further reduces the legitimacy of government, perpetuates the reality of a two-tier justice system, and continues an ongoing and long line of abuses and usurpations. I don’t think I need to explain where that ends.

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