By William Coburn
SUN Staff Writer
There will be a gun buyback Nov. 19 at the Española Police Department where gun owners can trade in old and unneeded/unwanted guns for gift cards.
The buyback is sponsored by New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. The group’s Co-President Miranda Viscoli said in a Sunday telephone interview that gun locks will also be available.
The guns can be exchanged for gift cards to Food King, Walmart, Target, Amazon and the Española Community Market.
Guns need to be in working order and gift card values are $100 for a long gun, $200 for semiautomatic handguns and rifles and $250 for assault weapons. The buyback is fully anonymous Viscoli said.
The buybacks are not meant to be “anti-gun” events Viscoli said, but more to help with general safety and clear out excess firearms that gun owners can’t safely keep track of or store safely and properly.
“There are too many guns” Viscoli said, “There was one woman who brought in 10 guns, she said she had eight more at home.”
At the group’s most recent gun buyback, which was in September in Santa Fe, participants handed over 196 weapons.
Because these events provide a basic service and are more about safety then anything anti-gun, Viscoli said they don’t get a lot of push back from gun rights advocates.
“Once a guy in Albuquerque showed up with a Nerf gun to turn in to harass our workers,” Viscoli said.
Española Police Department spokesperson Sergeant Jeremy Apodaca said he wasn’t aware of the police department doing anything like this before.
“The chiefs and the officers feel that it’s a solid opportunity to get guns off the street that shouldn’t be there,” Apodaca said.
Because the department had never done anything like this before, Apodaca said he couldn’t estimate how many guns they expect to receive.
“ I’m hoping it’s a successful event,” Apodaca said. “If just one person turns in a gun they don’t feel safe owning then I’d count that as a success.”
There was a previous gun buyback event in Española in 2016, held by the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, where 53 guns were collected.
Illegal, or stolen, firearms that are brought to the gun buyback will be returned to their rightful owner, Viscolli said. The Police department could not confirm if amnesty would be offered to anyone dropping off a stolen firearm.
The event will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Gun owners should drive to the front door of the Police Department on Calle Adelante, at the top of Industrial Park Road, next to Gino’s Gym. Staff will meet with gun owners from their vehicle.