ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police has launched its first enforcement operation aimed at a new state law requiring background checks on all gun sales in New Mexico.
The operation, which began Monday, has detectives calling dozens of people who are selling guns online and in the local community. Detectives are trying to see if prospective gun sellers will offload their weapon to a prospective buyer without a background check.
“We do want to send a message as a deterrent that we are going to be looking,” said Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Albuquerque Police. “Our detectives are looking at ads online and making phone calls to people who are selling these guns”
The operation represents the department’s first large scale effort to enforce the background check law, which came to life through Senate Bill 8 of the 2019 Legislative Session. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law in March, but the bill took effect in July.
The new state firearms law requires a background check of a prospective buyer in every single gun sale in New Mexico, including private, person to person sales.
The bill didn’t pass unnoticed. Numerous New Mexico sheriffs said last year that they believe the law is a waste of time.
“Why would we even bother expending very scarce, very expensive man hours on investigating on a misdemeanor crime?” Sheriff Mark Cage of Eddy County told KRQE News 13 in an interview in 2019.
However, APD sees it differently.
“We’re still coming across a lot of felons who have guns one way or another,” Gallegos said.
Out of 50 sting calls made Monday, APD says they had to warn 14 people about the background check law.
“This isn’t going to solve every instance of guns getting in the wrong hands, but if we can just prevent you know, one or two, we want to keep these guns out of the wrong hands,” Gallegos said.
APD says so far, detectives are giving warnings and extra information to people who aren’t asking about background checks. The department says they’re going to see how the operation goes, then consider what’s next. The department could potentially start charging people who don’t comply with a misdemeanor crime.
Albuquerque Police says it’s also working with federal law enforcement authorities to help identify hot spots where people are making gun sales, online and elsewhere.