Anti-gun org that broadcast it breaking law blocks critics after taking heat

In a post made on X, formerly Twitter, the anti-gun group New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence (NMPGV), run by Democrats’ anti-gun darling Miranda Viscoli, announced in so many words that it was breaking the law — then kept on digging itself in a hole when challenged.

“Pictured are unwanted firearms from one household in Farmington, NM.  Our gun buyback was [canceled] by the City, but local residents asked us to show up anyway. So, we spent today dismantling guns house by house,” wrote the group, with a photo accompanying the post. The post immediately sparked a fierce response.

“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.  The @FBI and @ATFHQ (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) 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” posted state Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park).

In 2019, the state Legislature passed S.B. 8, which Viscoli advocated in support of on behalf of her group. The group holds ineffective gun “buybacks,” which pay people for willingly giving up to the group, which then turns the firearms into gardening tools.

New Mexico Shooting Sports Association (NMSSA) wrote to NMPVG, “Shoutout to @NMPGVnow for joining forces with the ‘rogue sheriffs’ and ‘bad-faith critics’ by refusing to comply with laws criminalizing private firearm transfers in NM,” referencing a social media post by Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham who lambasted many of the state’s sheriffs for refusing to enforce the anti-gun law.

San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari has since initiated an investigation into the activities of the group, saying, “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.”

On Tuesday, NMSSA and Rep. Lord announced that NMPVG had blocked them on X following their support for the group bucking anti-gun laws.

Lord wrote, “I guess drafting a bill today in @NMPGVnow ’s honor rescinding the Universal Background check struck a nerve. Either there is an investigation into your alleged violations of New Mexico guns laws, and federal violations, or the laws are worthless and should be removed. ‘All are equal before the law, and laws should be equally enforced.’ There can’t be ‘laws for thee, but not for me.’ That’s not how this works.”

“And they blocked us,” wrote the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association.

The group also blocked a plethora of other pro-gun accounts, as they posted on X:

On Wednesday, the anti-gun group blocked state Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo):

It is immediately unclear the status of the investigation into Viscoli and NMPGV, but as soon as more information comes in, we will bring you the latest in the saga of the anti-gun group breaking the law.

Leftist NM columnist angers libs by endorsing this Dem over Biden

In a surprising twist that has left many leftists fuming, Santa Fe New Mexican‘s leftist columnist Milan Simonich has ignited a firestorm by openly endorsing Michelle Obama over Joe Biden in a recent column. Simonich, known for his outspoken views, has drawn criticism from within his own ideological camp for his strong opinions on Biden.

Simonich’s column begins with a reflection on the power of a good lead, citing an infamous example from 197, where a journalist prematurely declared victory for Richard Nixon just before the Watergate scandal unfolded. Drawing a parallel to contemporary politics, Simonich suggests that the public’s tendency to forget scandals could play in favor of 45th President Donald Trump, whom the leftist media have done everything possible to besmirch.

The columnist then takes a surprising turn by expressing dissatisfaction with Joe Biden’s candidacy for a second term. At 81, Biden, according to Simonich, may not match up well against potential Republican nominees like Trump or Nikki Haley, especially in swing states crucial for an Electoral College victory.

“I had hoped Biden would end his reelection bid before Christmas Day and clear the way for the candidate who could stomp Trump. I wanted Biden to recruit and endorse Michelle Obama,” writes Simonich.

The columnist envisions a 2024 campaign with Michelle Obama at the helm, contrasting her plain-speaking style with Trump’s rambling and praising her thoughtful and reasoned approach in contrast to Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin. Simonich argues that Obama’s candidacy could invigorate voter participation and put more states in play for Democrats.

Simonich believes that Michelle Obama’s candidacy would be a game-changer, running on honesty and competence against Trump’s perceived vulnerabilities. He asserts that Reagan’s success in rebuilding the Republican Party post-Watergate was based on charisma and a lack of criminal history—attributes he believes make Trump vulnerable to someone like Obama.

“I had hoped Biden would end his reelection bid before Christmas Day and clear the way for the candidate who could stomp Trump. I wanted Biden to recruit and endorse Michelle Obama,” Simonich wrote.

While acknowledging the slim chances of Michelle Obama running, Simonich suggests alternative candidates if Biden were to step aside, mentioning Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey as viable options to defeat Trump.

The column concludes with a holiday wish for a president who puts the country first, leaving readers with a provocative and unexpected perspective from a typically far-left commentator.

Which New Mexico city is the safest?

New Mexicans all know its largest city, Albuquerque, is the deadliest in the state, according to World Population Review, but which New Mexico city is the safest?

Small towns are often celebrated for their close-knit communities and a sense of charm and safety. A recent analysis by MoneyGeek, a personal finance site, delved into FBI crime data from the past year to identify small towns and cities with populations ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 that excel in safety. The analysis aimed to calculate the cost of crime in each area, considering impacts on victims and the justice system. Violent crimes were weighed more heavily due to their typically higher costs.

Christmas on the Pecos in Carlsbad, NM. Photo: NM Department of Tourism.

Surprisingly, many of the safest small communities were concentrated in the Northeast. Monroe Township in New Jersey claimed the top spot, boasting low property and violent crime rates. Hillsborough Township, also in New Jersey, secured the second position. Other Northeastern towns like Wallingford, Connecticut; Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; Westfield, New Jersey; Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania; and Princeton, New Jersey, all ranked in the top 10.

Beyond the Northeast, Zionsville, Indiana; Mason, Ohio; and Lone Peak, Utah, also received high safety scores. Notably, California, often associated with high crime rates in larger cities, had two cities – Rancho Santa Margarita and Danville – in the top 15.

MoneyGeek further broke down the data to identify the small towns or cities with the lowest crime costs in each state. Notable mentions included Rancho Santa Margarita in California, Windsor in Colorado, and Shrewsbury in Massachusetts.

Carlsbad, New Mexico, emerged with a cost of crime per capita of $1,410, securing its place in the analysis as the safest city in New Mexico. This demonstrates the town’s commitment to maintaining a safe environment for its residents.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Jirka Matousek, Wiki Commons.

Clovis had a crime cost per capita of $1,593, Santa Fe’s was $2,361, Hobbs’ was $2,841, Farmington’s was $3,006, and Roswell’s was $3,851, according to the study.

The nationwide crime landscape in 2022 revealed a drop in overall violent crime by 1.7%, with a significant 6.1% decline in the murder rate. However, property crimes surged by 7.1%, attributed in part to a notable increase in motor vehicle theft.

While small towns are often perceived as havens of safety, the study also highlighted exceptions. Monroe, Louisiana, for instance, experienced a higher crime cost in 2022 than the majority of large cities. Despite the overall trends, it’s evident that some small towns, like Carlsbad, are successfully prioritizing safety and community well-being.

Fmr. BernCo sheriff walks away from Dem Party, likely to challenge Heinrich

Retired Democrat Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales has changed his party affiliation to Republican, according to a voter registration card provided exclusively to the Piñon Post.

Gonzales, who served two terms as sheriff for the state’s largest county, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich, who has his eyes set on the New Mexico governorship once far-left incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham finishes her second and final term, a source close to Gonzales has shared exclusively with the Post.

Born and raised in the heart of New Mexico, Gonzales developed a strong commitment to public service from an early age. He began his law enforcement career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, steadily rising through the ranks due to his dedication, leadership, and commitment to community safety.

During his time as sheriff, Gonzales implemented several innovative initiatives aimed at enhancing public safety and building trust between law enforcement and the community. 

His focus on community-oriented policing strategies garnered praise for fostering positive relationships between officers and residents. Under his leadership, the Sheriff’s Office worked collaboratively with local organizations, schools, and businesses to address crime prevention and engage in community outreach programs.

Sheriff Gonzales demonstrated a keen understanding of the challenges facing law enforcement in the modern era. His efforts included implementing technology upgrades to enhance crime-fighting capabilities, advocating for officer training programs, and championing initiatives to address the root causes of criminal behavior. Gonzales’s commitment to transparency and accountability within the Sheriff’s Office contributed to increased public trust in law enforcement.

During Lujan Grisham’s brutal COVID-19 lockdowns, which resulted in 40% of New Mexico small businesses closing up shop, Gonzales refused to enforce her edicts, saying in 2020 that they were “turning everyday citizens into villains.”

“It is my opinion that the resources of the sheriff’s office should be focused on making our communities safe and more prosperous for everyday citizens,” he said, adding, “For that reason, we will not follow along with any orders that subvert your Constitutional rights. Therefore, my agency’s focus will continue to be public safety, apprehending actual criminals, and not harassing everyday citizens attempting to make a life for themselves and their families in Bernalillo County.”

The then-sheriff was honored at the White House by President Donald Trump in 2020 for his work on “Operation Legend,” which was a coordinated approach between law enforcement departments to aggressively investigate the most violent crimes. 

In 2021, Gonzlaes ran for Albuquerque mayor, coming up short of incumbent far-left Democrat Mayor Tim Keller. 

Now, with a potential U.S. Senate race on the horizon in 2024, the former sheriff could give Heinrich a run for his money if he decides to run. Republican Ben Luna of Otero County has already announced a run for the seat, a story broken exclusively by the Post in September. ​

Dem NM rep. refuses to apologize after inferring disabled people shouldn’t breed

Last week, State Rep. Susan Herrera (D-Embudo) said during a Legislative Education Study Committee meeting, “Many special ed kids get together, and you know, get married and have children. And that’s really difficult… to respect and help that group of people,” which sparked outrage in the disability community. It was first reported on by KOAT 7 News, which reached out to state Rep. John Block (R-Alamogordo), who was in the meeting, for comment. 

Block, who is the founder and editor of the Piñon Post, told the outlet, “When she said that, I kind of shook my head a little bit because I didn’t really understand where she was coming from in the vein that she was talking,” adding, “You’re talking about cell phones, and then she starts talking about how kids and individuals with special needs should not be getting married and are a problem in our society. That’s that’s a pretty big stretch. I don’t know how someone could go from one to the other, so I would definitely want some clarity.”

“We really rely and trust these representatives to make decisions in the best interest of the communities that they represent,” said Donyelle Lucero, President of the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Network, to the outlet. “A lot of people don’t really have a true understanding of individuals with special needs. They don’t know how to interact. They don’t always see them as equal.”

On Thursday, a constituent of Herrera called her after seeing the newscast where she appeared to disparage disabled people. Herrera not only refused to apologize but doubled down on the rhetoric, claiming Block was responsible, accusing him of taking the clip “out-of-context.”

The distressed constituent, who recorded the call with Herrera, reached out to Block on the condition of anonymity to convey her distress with Herrera’s refusal to apologize. The woman gave Block the recordings and allowed him to publish the Democrat’s words in recordings shared via X, formerly Twitter.

Herrera told the constituent, “This is something John Block does to all legislators. He takes something out of context, he blows it up, and he makes it appear what it — what is just isn’t true. If you know my voting record — and Liz Thomson would verify for me, legislators who work on Health and Human Services would verify that I always back special needs legislation or help [the] disabled or the handicapped in any way possible,” adding, “I think that’s my job. I have family members who are special needs kids. My sister adopted three special needs kids. She united them. They were in different orphanages. They have been a part of my life all my life, [Constituent’s Name]. And I have helped those kids (they’re adults now) all my life.”

When asked if she is “blaming John Block for all of this,” Herrera claimed, “No, well, I’m saying he took things out of perspective in that committee. I was talking specifically about one superintendent that I talked to, and I was worried because the special needs population was so high, and I was saying that these families really struggle. So, it’s our job as legislators to see how we can help them. So, he ignored all of that, and he took it out of context, and, yes, it sounds terrible. Was I saying that? No.”

“Well, what the news showed was that you were speaking about special needs people getting married and having kids,” the constituent responded.

“And I see nothing wrong with that. And I never said there was anything wrong with that. I said sometimes…. This is what the superintendent told me. He said, ‘You know, we have a lot of families here and they get married.’ I don’t have a problem with that. If you can find someone you love,” said Herrera, despite casting doubt on the numbers of disabled people in the referenced superintendent’s district.

Herrera then attacked KOAT 7 News, telling the woman, “They should have checked the story a little closer. They didn’t. But, you know, you don’t argue with the press [Constituent], because frankly, they get the last word. You know what I mean?” 

The constituent told Herrera, “No, I don’t. I saw what you said,” before the line was disconnected.

Block then posted the full video, with the full context of Herrera’s comment on X, writing, “Watch her full remarks before and after her comment in committee at the end of the video, which completely blows a gaping hole in her attempt to defend the indefensible. Disgusting how she is doubling down.”

The Democrat could have immediately apologized for the insensitive remark, and the story could have gone away as an unfortunate choice of words that the elected official did not truly mean. Instead, Herrera doubled down, which has sparked a new wave of outrage by disability rights activists. 

But that’s not all. On Friday, after Rep. Block posted the audio recordings, Herrera attacked disability rights activists angered by her comment, saying they took her comments “out of context, in an attempt to score political points.”

In the statement to KOAT 7, she again refused to apologize, telling the outlet, “My support and respect for individuals with disabilities is unwavering. I am disappointed that my comments during last week’s committee meeting were taken out of context, in an attempt to score political points. I regret that people misunderstood my remarks, which were intended to reflect how many families have been disrespected by the very systems that are meant to serve them. I will continue to be an advocate for families and individuals with disabilities in the legislature. My voting record speaks for itself.”

No legislative Democrat has come out to distance themselves from Herrera’s ableist comment or her tripling down on her bigoted comment, which continues to fester amid waves of criticism for the comment.

NM courts chock-full of judges trained by extremist pro-abortion group

As you may have read in the news lately, the state Supreme Court recently heard arguments on a case brought forth by far-left pro-abortion Democrat Attorney General Raúl Torrez, who is suing Lea and Roosevelt counties and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis for enacting ordinances relating to business licensing for abortion facilities. The ordinances are based on the federal Comstock Act, which preempts the state from interfering in its application. However, Torrez is trying to get the high court to rule against the counties.

What New Mexicans may not know about the Court, in particular, is that its chief justice, Shannon Bacon, and Justice Julie Vargas (both appointed by pro-abortion Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) are alumni of the heavily biased dark money pro-abortion group “Emerge New Mexico,” which is a pro-abortion organization that trains women and “non-binary” candidates to run for office.

The national Emerge group, “Emerge America,” wrote on a form to recruit candidates, “Are you outraged by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade? Do you want to protect abortion rights for your community? Are you ready to step forward and be the leader you’re meant to be? Then it’s time to run for office.”

During oral arguments on the county abortion ordinance case, Justice Bacon got combative and even hostile toward the attorneys representing the defendants, showing clear bias against the counties and cities before deliberations had even begun. 

The Associated Press reported, “Justices peppered the attorney general and three attorneys for local governments with questions, voicing skepticism on a variety of arguments.”

“For anyone watching or tuning in, it was difficult to learn because of the justices’ frequent interruptions,” said State Senator David Gallegos, R-Eunice, who sat through some of the hearing via the live video feed, according to the Carlsbad Current-Argus. “At times, the personal ideologies of some of the justices were evident and they even coached the attorney general and pro-abortion counsel.”

Bacon said during the hearing, “These ordinances have a chilling effect on people in the state seeking the health care they need and these entities locating in Lea County,” appearing to show her bias in ruling over the Court.

How is it that nearly half of the judges on the state’s highest court appear inherently biased against counties that passed life-affirming laws due to their affiliation with Emerge New Mexico? The other three justices on the Court were either endorsed or appointed by the fervently pro-abortion governor, which lends no question as to how they will rule on any case involving abortion access in New Mexico. 

What’s even more shocking than just the Supreme Court littered with pro-abortion extremist jurists is that seven out of the ten justices who sit on New Mexico’s Court of Appeals are graduates of Emerge, which the organization proudly touts on its website. 

The group’s graduates who sit on the Court of Appeals include Judges Jennifer Attrep (ENM ’15), Kristina Bogardus (ENM ’17), Megan Duffy (ENM ’18), Shammara Henderson (ENM ’10), Jacqueline Medina (ENM ’14), Katherine Wray (ENM ’22), and Jane Yohalem (ENM ’18). 

27 of the state Legislature’s 112 members are also graduates of the far-left pro-abortion organization, including the sponsors of 2021’s House bill to legalize abortion up-to-birth in the state. Democrat House Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski of Santa Fe, who was just elected in 2023, has risen to House leadership after being executive director for Emerge — showing the organization has clout with pulling strings to power. Three of Albuquerque’s seven school board members are Emerge alumni.

The referendum project currently challenging far-left extremist laws includes six bills seeking to be put on the ballot for a vote. Five of those six bills were sponsored by Emerge alumni. 

Four judges in the First Judicial District (Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Los Alamos counties), 11 in the Second District (Bernalillo County), one in the Sixth (Grant, Luna, and Hidalgo counties), one in the Eighth District (Colfax, Taos, and Union counties), and one in the Thirteenth District (Cibola, Sandoval, and Valencia counties) are Emerge alumni. The group has four judges on the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, one judge on the Doña Ana County Magistrate Court, one on the Los Alamos County Municipal Court (District 32), and one on the Bernalillo County Probate Court. 

The organization is funded by the Black Lives Matter-linked “Akonadi Foundation,” the major pro-lockdown teacher’s union, the National Education Association (NEA), and Hillary Clinton’s group “Onward Together,” among others, as reported by Influence Watch.

Many of these “Emerge” judges placed on the high courts may attempt to conceal their true values by cloaking them under their black robes and lip service to following the rule of law and nothing else, but make no mistake — it looks to be impossible to get an unbiased verdict in the state’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals with the books already cooked against anyone who does not support pro-abortion extremism and other views held by the biased “progressive” organization.

Researcher Leanna Derrick contributed to this report. 

National group hits Vasquez in new ads running over Christmas

Far-left Democrat U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez is facing a fresh wave of criticism over his failure to help clamp down on inflation and rubber stamping the Joe Biden “Bidenomics” agenda that has resulted in over 17 percent inflation and an increase in costs for everyday New Mexicans.

A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee appears to liken Vasquez to the Grinch, with the words “Bidenomics Ruined Christmas” next to a photo of the representative pictured in a Santa hat. 

It further reads, “Tell Gabe Vasques to stop supporting reckless government spending fueling inflation.” 

The digital ad will run throughout the New Year to New Mexicans in the Second Congressional District. 

In 2024, the Democrat faces tough competition from Republican former Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, who served from 2021 to 2023. 

Herrell has all GOP U.S. House leadership endorsements, including Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, and many high-profile congressional representatives, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky. 

Bone-chilling 911 calls reveal horror behind governor’s dark CYFD curtain

Children under the care of the state in New Mexico, lacking suitable placements, find themselves resorting to overnight stays in office buildings, a situation acknowledged by the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD). While efforts to address this issue are underway, the reality inside these offices reveals ongoing challenges for both the children and staff awaiting a resolution. In one instance, a location is regularly summoning law enforcement for assistance with the children.

Over the past year, Roswell Police responded to the CYFD Office 120 times, as disclosed in records spanning from October 2022 to October 2023. During one incident on October 5, 2023, captured on a police sergeant’s lapel camera, frustrations were voiced about the persistent housing crisis for these children. A CYFD employee expressed the difficulty in controlling the situation, acknowledging it as a recurring problem. The recorded conversation underscored the frequency of law enforcement responses to the office.

Listen to the 911 dispatch conversations at KRQE here.

The particular incident involved two teenage girls who were likely facing a night in the office due to the shortage of foster homes in the city. However, following the police intervention prompted by an altercation, the girls ended up in juvenile detention centers instead of suitable housing.

During the intervention, an upset mother, whose parental rights were allegedly revoked using a false police report, confronted CYFD employees. The lapel footage showed the chaotic scene inside the office, with the girls running amok, uttering profanities, and impeding the CYFD staff. The situation escalated when the oldest daughter, not under state custody, was told to leave and reacted by causing disruption and assaulting a CYFD employee.

Multiple 911 calls were made, describing the chaotic scene and requesting additional officers. Dispatchers labeled the incident a ‘riot,’ prompting a substantial response from law enforcement, including on-duty officers, the Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police, fire, and paramedics.

The situation outside the office involved the older daughter and the mother being escorted out, but not without physical resistance. Inside, a conversation between the police sergeant and a CYFD employee highlighted the limitations on CYFD staff in handling such situations, emphasizing the need for law enforcement intervention.

Records since October 2022 indicate that CYFD frequently calls 911 for various issues, including children running away, damaging the office, and threatening staff. The escalating frustration of law enforcement and CYFD employees was evident, with concerns raised about the potential for a dangerous outcome if the situation persists.

Barbara Yehl, running a foster family support organization in Roswell, expressed anger at CYFD and the state for failing to ensure a safe environment for these children. She pointed out that the kids staying in the office have behavioral and mental health issues, contributing to their disruptive behavior.

CYFD’s Cabinet Secretary Designate Teresa Casados acknowledged the shortcomings of the current situation, mentioning ongoing talks to secure an alternative place for the children to sleep in Roswell. Despite efforts to provide resources and support, the thin availability of providers statewide remains a challenge.

In response to concerns about diverting police resources for these incidents, Casados emphasized that it is not solely a CYFD issue but a community problem. Trauma-informed training is being provided to CYFD staff to better handle challenging situations, and Casados encourages continued collaboration with law enforcement until a more sustainable solution is in place.

Since December 2022, CYFD reported instances of children sleeping in 19 offices across the state, with the maximum number in the Roswell office reaching four at one time during the summer. The ongoing struggle highlights the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to ensure the well-being of children in state custody.

Lujan Grisham faces fury from all sides amid attempted NMPED rule change

New Mexico’s public education department faced a barrage of opinions from over 100 individuals expressing their concerns about proposed changes to the school calendar. These changes, mandated by legislation from the last session, aim to increase instructional time in public New Mexico schools.

One resident, Ronald Dixon, a grandparent of students at Grady Municipal Schools, passionately objected to the proposed changes. Traveling over three hours to Santa Fe, Dixon emphasized the importance of providing students and teachers with breaks. Currently, on a four-day school week schedule, Dixon’s grandchildren have thrived academically. He argued that a previous experience with a five-day school in Clovis did not yield the same success, making him a staunch supporter of the existing system at Grady.

The sentiment against the proposed changes was widespread, with hundreds of individuals converging in the state’s capital to voice their opinions. The legislature had earlier passed a bill to increase instructional time and extend the school calendar. This bill allowed districts with four-day school weeks to make adjustments to their hours.

However, the Public Education Department (PED) is now contemplating a shift for all schools to a traditional five-day school week. Critics, including Dave Hicks, the President of the Socorro School Board, deemed this move an “absolute overreach,” expressing discontent with the disregard for local school board members and the legislative process that had addressed the issue less than a year ago. Hicks stressed that a one-size-fits-all approach is inadequate, advocating for support tailored to the unique needs of each district.

Cabinet Secretary Arsenio Romero of the Public Education Department defended the proposed changes, citing the need to align policies with House Bill 130, which requires all public schools to provide 1,140 hours of learning time per year, including teacher professional development time. However, critics, including teachers, lawmakers, and school officials, strongly opposed the move, considering it an encroachment on local control and contrary to the spirit of 2023’s H.B. 130.

The verbiage of the proposed rule directly contradicts state statute, with H.B. 130 reading, “Up to sixty instructional hours per school year for elementary grades and thirty instructional hours for middle and high school grades may be used for professional work hours, which may be embedded during the course of a normal school day.” 

The proposed rule, in conflict with the statute, asserts that “all public school calendars shall include at least 180 instructional days per school year, exclusive of teacher professional work hours.”

Ron Hendrix, the Socorro Superintendent, echoed these concerns, fearing a potential loss of half their teaching staff if the PED enforces the schedule change. Both Hendrix and Hicks urged the department to acknowledge and support what is working effectively in individual districts rather than imposing a uniform solution.

The Public Education Department is set to review the comments gathered on Monday and is expected to make a ruling on the proposed school calendar changes in January. The fate of the proposed modifications remains uncertain, pending further deliberation by education officials.

Sheriff launches Investigation into anti-gun group’s activities

San Juan County, NM – In a bid to ensure adherence to state and federal laws governing firearm transactions, Sheriff Shane Ferrari has initiated an investigation into the activities of the “New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence” group led by far-left anti-gun activist Miranda Viscoli. 

The focus of the inquiry is centered on the group’s gun buyback program, specifically evaluating its compliance with New Mexico State Law 30-7-7.1, which pertains to the “Unlawful sale of a firearm without a background check.”

Addressing the media, Sheriff Ferrari emphasized the importance of transparency and clarified the motive behind the investigation. “Before it comes out in the media and gets twisted one way or another, I want to inform you that I am investigating San Juan County citizens’ complaints on ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ gun buyback program not complying with New Mexico State Law 30-7-7.1 ‘Unlawful sale of a firearm without a background check.’”

Sheriff Ferrari via the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, NM.

Sheriff Ferrari highlighted the key 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.’”

The Sheriff delved into the nuances of the law, particularly examining the exemption for law enforcement. “Some may question the exemption ‘to law enforcement,’ meaning if we (law enforcement) purchase the gun, we don’t need a background check. This mainly covers law enforcement purchasing duty guns. There are currently law enforcement agencies using tax dollars to purchase unwanted firearms (gun buyback) under the Governor’s current health order. Those are lawful and covered as exemptions in the law.”

However, Sheriff Ferrari underscored the importance of due process, pointing out that law enforcement is required to obtain a court order for the destruction or other disposition of firearms acquired through buyback programs. “Law enforcement is required to obtain a court order for destruction or other disposition. That process takes months. If ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ is going through law enforcement to purchase the unwanted firearms, those must remain in that law enforcement agency’s custody until they obtain a destruction order.”

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 Sheriff clarified that the investigation does not extend to the City of Farmington, as they responded promptly to citizens’ concerns and canceled the event until further clarification and community engagement.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Sheriff Ferrari revealed, “I have been informed ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ came to town this weekend and obtained firearms. I currently do not have details on how that event took place. I am also aware of photos shared by ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence,’ posting firearms that may not have been properly destroyed according to federal law and were obtained in San Juan County. (Yes, I know how many times a receiver needs to be cut to be considered destroyed) I will be looking into the matter.”

Emphasizing his commitment to upholding Constitutional rights, Sheriff Ferrari concluded, “I take great pride in being born, raised, and serving a county where we value our Constitutional rights. The 2nd Amendment can be a divisive topic. 2nd Amendment violations are not the focus of this investigation. It is whether ‘New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence’ is in compliance with State and Federal Law with their gun buyback program and confirming participating law enforcement agencies are following property destruction laws.”

“As President of the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association, I will forward the outcome of this investigation to member Sheriffs for their review. Your right to possess a firearm is upheld in the 2nd Amendment. Your right to sell your property (firearm) to whom every legally can buy it is upheld in the 4th Amendment.” Sheriff Ferrari expressed reservations about gun buyback programs.” 

He added, “I do not believe gun buyback programs reduce crime. They serve as a way to get rid of unwanted firearms. There are pros and cons that are hard to balance. For example, Pro-removing unwanted firearms, Con- impact to criminal investigation. Most guns purchased are junk, but the numbers look good on paper. I don’t like my tax dollars being used to buy someone’s unwanted property or junk.”

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