Thirty-three guns were turned in and dismantled Nov. 19 at the Gun Buyback at the Española Police Department.
The gun buyback, operated by New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, was open from 1 to 3 p.m. and volunteers were dismantling guns until 4:30 p.m., according to Co-president Miranda Viscoli. None of the guns they received were stolen.
“People are usually positive about it, but you always get a few naysayers,” Viscoli said. “Really people are wanting to get rid of their guns.”
People who dropped off a gun could receive a $100 gift card to Target, Amazon, Walmart, the Espanola Community Market or Food King.
The gun buyback was handled anonymously so that stolen and illegally purchased guns could be deposited. Stolen guns once identified would be returned to their rightful owner. New Mexico state law does not require gun owners who’ve had their firearms stolen to report them as stolen.
Española Police Department was on hand to help clear out the guns of amo and check to see if any of the serial numbers were reported as stolen.
Española Police Deputy Chief Jack Jones said getting excess weapons was important for the safety of his officers.
“It doesn’t happen every day, but they worry about it every day,” Jones said.
Stolen guns were a concern for safety for everyone Jones said, and people turning in weapons said they didn’t feel they could safely lock them and it would help reduce the amount of shooting deaths.
“This is a good thing for the people of the Española Valley.” Jones said.
Natalie Skogerboe was one of the volunteers checking in dropped off firearms and is the treasurer of New Mexicans Against Gun Violence and the owner of Aspen Solutions a consulting firm that uses data analytics to understand public health issues.
“It’s an important issue to me because I work in public health,” Skogerboe said. “Firearms kill more people in New Mexico then DWI, I care about suicide prevention and getting guns out of homes or locked securely can save lives”
According to the CDC around half of all suicides in the US are firearm suicides.
Another volunteer was retired Santa Fe police lieutenant Michelle Williams.
“I participated before at one with the Santa Fe Police Department,” Williams said. “It’s a good program and people need gift cards more than guns around the holidays.”
New Mexicans Against Gun Violence had been working on legislation to require pawnshops to keep an inventory of weapons they carried, and ensure gun shop employees receive background checks Viscoli said. That initiative was put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic shifting the legislature’s focus.
“What we’re looking at right now is making sure pawn shops secure their firearms,” Viscoli said. “There’s a lot of stolen guns in New Mexico, In the past year we’ve almost tripled the numbers of guns stolen”
The guns being stolen were being sold quickly on the streets Viscoli said. They’re being sold over Instagram and Snapchat, both apps have features that allow posts to disappear after a short period of time.