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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Raids New Mexico Gun Shop Amidst Illegal Sales 

October 20, 2023

Following a Weekend of Gun Violence in Las Cruces, Federal Agents Raid, Effectively Closing Down, Shooter’s Den Gun Store for Illegal Gun Sales

Albuquerque, N.M. – Earlier this week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided a well-known gun store, Shooter’s Den, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for manufacturing and selling firearms without a license, including an unregistered machine gun and other federally regulated weapons. After issuing an initial warning for illegal sales back in March, federal agents conducted multiple undercover purchases at Shooter’s Den – and each time they found the store in violation of federal law. Shooter’s Den is also listed as a dealer for major gun companies, including Smith & Wesson and Henry Repeating Arms. 

This raid comes on the heels of two separate shootings that occurred over the weekend in Las Cruces, New Mexico, killing two teenage boys. 

“In the wake of two teenagers being gunned down in my community, to learn there was a gun store routinely making illegal sales – further exacerbating our gun violence crisis – hurts tenfold,” said Ellice Whiteaker, a volunteer leader with New Mexico State University chapter of Students Demand Action. “Las Cruces is a vibrant community filled with people who came here for a safer future, but violence is tearing us apart. ATF raiding Shooter’s Den sends a clear message: bad-actors will be held accountable. But we also know it’s on the gun industry to refuse to do business with rogue dealers, as gun companies play a major role in our nation’s gun violence crisis.” 

“Bad-actor gun dealers like Shooter’s Den are worsening our gun violence crisis by allowing deadly weapons to fall into the wrong hands and the gun industry must hold them accountable,” said Cheryl Haase, a volunteer with New Mexico Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Gun manufacturers like Smith & Wesson should absolutely drop companies that repeatedly violate federal law as authorized dealers. We’re more ready than ever to work with lawmakers to take on the gun industry and protect New Mexico families from gun violence.”

Regular ATF inspections and laws requiring record keeping, videotaping, and other store security measures can help stop gun trafficking and illegal gun sales. Yet the gun industry has resisted any effort to secure the firearm supply chain, which too often allows guns to slip through the cracks of the legal market and fall into the wrong hands. Everytown for Gun Safety is demanding gun companies, like Smith & Wesson, hold dealers to a code of conduct that requires them to report crime gun traces and the results of ATF inspections before agreeing to do business. 

There are nearly 78,000 gun dealers in the United States, more than the number of McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Wendy’s locations in the country combined. Laws on how gun stores conduct their business have not been significantly strengthened since the 1960s, and ATF remains notoriously under-resourced to enforce the gun safety laws Congress has passed and hampered by restrictions written by the gun lobby. Additionally, gun extremists in Congress are working overtime to abolish and defund ATF altogether. 

In an average year, 492 people die by guns in New Mexico. With a rate of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 people, New Mexico has the sixth highest rate of gun deaths in the US. The rate of gun deaths has increased 80% from 2012 to 2021 in New Mexico, compared to a 39% increase nationwide. More information on gun violence in New Mexico is available here.

If you are interested in speaking with a New Mexico Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action volunteer, or a policy expert on industry accountability please reach out to [email protected].

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