AG Opinion New Mexico Gun Buy Back Programs Legal Countering Assertions by Rep John Block


N.M. A.G. advisor Rep John Block and Lord are incorrect, Gun Buy Back Programs ARE LEGAL (

The New Mexico Attorney General's office has issued an advisory that gun buyback programs that take weapons out of circulation are legal affirming a stance by the organization New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

New Mexico District 51 Representative John Block since 2000, has paraded around the state and written on his propaganda blog asserting the gun buyback programs are illegal.

The organization New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence has been on the radar with negative attacks from New Mexico State Representative John Block. Mr. Block has proposed a 25% reduction on sale tax on the sale of a gun and ammunition for this legislative session. No reduction for the purchases of everyday citizens but relief for gun owners. He has attacked the organization and claimed their gun buyback program violates the law.

State Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo) wrote to NMPVG, “Just so you understand, the passing of the firearm from one party (them) to another (you) = a TRANSFER!”

In a tit for tat in social media Rep Lord and Rep Block asserted that the group was violating the law.

New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence argued, “There was no transfer of firearms? Dismantling a gun onsite is not a transfer.”

To Rep. Lord’s post, NMPVG wrote, “We have been doing this for years. 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.”

Rep. Block responded, “So, you’ve been breaking the law for years?”

Countering the assertion by Rep John Block and questions raised by law enforcement and Rep Lord; Chief Deputy Attorney General James Grayson explained in a letter to San Juan County District Attorney Rick Tedrow and released to the public that gun buy-back events conducted by nonprofit organizations in partnership with law enforcement agencies do not violate a provision of a 2019 state law requiring that a federal instant background check be conducted prior to the sale of a firearm, except in certain circumstances.

The issue sparking the advisory was a bid to ensure adherence to state and federal laws governing firearm transactions, Sheriff Shane Ferrari initiated an investigation in November 2023 into the activities of the New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. The sheriff asserted his belief that program was not complying with New Mexico State Law 30-7-7.1 ‘Unlawful sale of a firearm without a background check.’”

Sheriff Ferrari has issued a statement of his concern surrounding the group’s failure to undergo background checks during firearm transactions. “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.’”

Sheriff Ferrari was concerned about potential deviations from legal procedures and expressed his commitment to a thorough investigation. “Either way I look at it, the law is not being followed. I have reached out to ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ with questions. They have referred me to Attorney General Torrez. Both the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office are reviewing my assessment.

The Chief Deputy Attorney General James Grayson responded and explained in a letter to San Juan County District Attorney Rick Tedrow, copied to Sheriff Ferrari, that "gun buy-back events conducted by nonprofit organizations in partnership with law enforcement agencies do not violate New Mexico state nor Federal Laws." radio edition with Anthony Lucero on KRAZY KALH Radio interviewed New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence representative Miranda Viscoli after the incident with Sheriff Ferrari and the tit for tat on social media with Block and she responded that: "I'm a gun owner." She was of the strong belief that what they do is legal and that has now been confirmed by the Attorney General's Office of New Mexico.

To hear the full podcast of that interview of Alamogordo Town News on KRAZY KALH Radio listen the podcast on Youtube at

The Attorney Generals office advisory explained, “The plain language of the statute shows that a federal instant background check is not required at the type of gun buy-back event described,” Grayson wrote in his letter, noting specifically that the statute does not apply to the transfer of a firearm as a gift. “As a result, there is no question that an individual could donate a firearm to a non-profit entity without being subject to the statute.”

Assistant A. G. Grayson wrote that, "even though a law enforcement officer provides a surrendered firearm to a nonprofit worker for destruction after making sure it has not been reported as stolen during such events, that transfer is not regarded as a sale because the nonprofit worker does not provide anything of value to the law enforcement officer in exchange for the weapon."

“The gun buy-back involves two separate transfers of possession, neither of which requires a federal instant background check under (the statute),” he wrote. “The law enforcement agency, in effect, functions as an intermediary in a manner that does not trigger the background check requirement.”

Miranda Viscoli, the co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, was happy with the opinion from the AG’s staff. “One hundred percent, yes,” she said, affirming her confidence that such a review was going to validate her organization’s position on the issue.

Now, the misinformation has to stop,” said Viscoli, referring to what she described as large-scale social media mischaracterizations of the actions and goals of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence by elected officials such as Block and Lord who should know better than to abuse their position to spread misinformation.

Sheriff Ferrari, who had raised the issue of the legality of the programs in a Dec. 17 Facebook post on his Shane Ferrari for Facebook page, gracefully acknowledged receiving the letter from the chief deputy AG. In a post he said he "understood the reasoning that if a buy-back program is conducted in partnership with a law enforcement agency, it does not run afoul of state law."

Sheriff Ferrari is concerned that the letter did not address his question about what happens if organization such as New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence conduct such events "on their own, without the participation of a law-enforcement agency."

He confirmed that he had reached out to the New Mexico Department of Justice, formerly known as the Attorney General’s Office, for a response to that question as a follow-up.

Viscoli has said she hopes Grayson’s letter defuses some of the criticism she and New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence have been subject to over social media. She blamed Ferrari, as well as state lawmakers John Block and Stefani Lord for encouraging much of that negative activity. She asserted they are abusing their political position by vilifying her organization. on KALH Radio with Anthony Lucero has calls in to Viscoli as well as Block for an on-air comment. Stay tuned.

Source: New Mexico Department of Justice Advisory, Alamogordo Town News Radio Edition with Anthony Lucero on KRAZY KALH Radio 

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