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Gun buyback planned in Santa Fe amid youth violence concerns  

The buyback event will allow people to exchange weapons for gift cards
New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence
The buyback event will allow people to exchange weapons for gift cards

The City of Santa Fe is holding a gun buyback event on Saturday, May 11, in which people can anonymously exchange guns for gift cards.

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said there has been an increase in gun violence, particularly amongst youth in the First Judicial District, covering Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe Counties.

Statewide, firearm injuries among children and teenagers increased between 2018 and 2022, according to data published by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's office last year.

"And so we're trying to go at this problem with everything we have," said Carmack-Altwies. "Through gun buybacks, through trying to get illegal guns off the streets, through trying to hold people that are committing crimes with guns, hold them in jail."

Earlier this year the governor signed laws that create a waiting period for gun sale and that keep people locked up when they are accused of a second felony while awaiting trial for a first.

The District Attorney's office, the police department and the nonprofit New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence are partnering with the city to hold the event.

Some research suggests that gun buyback programs, where people exchange weapons for money or gift cards, aren't effective at bringing down overall levels of violence. Miranda Viscoli from New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence says she sees an impact though, from anonymous surveys by people bringing in guns.

"Over 80% are doing it for safety," she said.

She added some people who bring in guns have a person living in the house — maybe a child, or a veteran — with suicidal ideations. She said that over 19 gun buybacks in New Mexico since 2016, they have taken in 2,300 weapons with close to 40% being semi-automatics and AR15s.

"So when people say gun buybacks don't work. I wish they would look at our reports and our survey results because we're seeing directly that they do make a difference," she said.

The buyback will be held from 9 a.m. until noon at the Santa Fe Municipal Courthouse parking lot at 2511 Camino Entrada on Saturday. No information will be kept about people who turn in guns.

New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence will be providing free gun locks. Gift cards will be for Brewers Gas, Target, Walmart, Amazon and Smiths, and their value depends on the weapon turned in: $250 for an assault style weapon, $200 for a semi-automatic firearm and $100 for a long gun, revolver or pistol.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline on 988.

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.
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