PROMO Miscellaneous - Terrorism Crime Law Enforcement Person Criminal People - iStockbaramee2554

Gun buybacks in New Mexico this weekend might not do anything to prevent crime

© iStockbaramee2554
Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham renewed executive orders declaring gun violence a public health emergency Friday. 

The renewal extends the emergency to December 1, 2023, according to the governor's office.

Since September 8 in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, there have been 1,441 arrests, 86 guns seized, and 2,511 traffic citations issued, according to the governor.

No guns have been found on Albuquerque Public Schools campuses since October 5, 2023. The previous month, there were six found.

“The work of local and state partners, especially law enforcement, in the last two months is yielding real results for the Albuquerque community. But now is no time to slow down, and we will continue our efforts to eradicate gun violence,” Lujan Grisham said. “This executive order sends a clear message that the safety and well-being of residents are our top priorities. We stand united in our resolve to combat gun violence and protect our communities.”

Governor Lujan Grisham initially declared a state of public emergency on September 7. However, her declaration included a controversial and most likely unconstitutional measure that would have effectively banned people from carrying firearms in public in Bernalillo County. A federal judge temporarily blocked the order, law enforcement refused to enforce the law, and the state's Democratic attorney general refused to defend it in court.

She then issued a revised version that only banned carrying at parks and playgrounds.

“Gun violence has become a significant public health concern in New Mexico, leaving behind tragic consequences, including homicide, suicide, and unintentional injuries,” Patrick Allen, secretary for the New Mexico Department of Health, said. “The heartbreaking stories of lives lost, and families shattered by gun violence in our state emphasize the urgency of our efforts to combat this public health crisis.”

The governor ordered a coordinated response to the public health emergency that involves the Department of Health, Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Department of Public Safety, in her executive order.

It also orders the New Mexico State Police to host gun buyback events. 

“These are opportunities for our communities to come together and make a real impact on gun safety,” Troy Weisler, Chief of the New Mexico State Police, said. “We aim to reduce the risks associated with firearms by providing a safe, anonymous way to surrender unwanted weapons.”

The gun buyback events will take place on November 4, 2023, from 8 a.m. through 2 p.m. They will occur at these locations, the release said:

  • Albuquerque: Expo New Mexico at 300 San Pedro Gate 6 (south of Lomas)
  • Las Cruces: New Mexico Game and Fish at 2715 E. Northrise Dr.
  • Española: Robert “Gordy” Vigil Regional Sportsplex at 2000 Industrial Park Rd.

The initiative lets people anonymously surrender unwanted firearms. No one will ask them questions about the firearms or their origin. In exchange, they will get Visa and/or American Express gift cards.

"The objective of these buyback events is to prevent unwanted or unneeded weapons from causing harm or being used to commit acts of violence," the release said.

Here are the details for how the buyback works, according to the release:

  • $200.00 Visa and/or American Express gift card for handguns
  • $300.00 Visa and/or American Express gift card for rifles, shotguns, and assault weapons
  • Firearms may be functional or non-functional

The buybacks will happen despite evidence that they do not stop gun violence.

The Rand Corporation has noted this fact: "Although it is possible that gun buybacks have prevented incidents of firearm-related harm, it is very unlikely that such small reductions in the number of guns available would lead to measurable decreases in firearm crime, injuries, or deaths," the centrist think tank states. "Communities continue to hold gun buyback events without empirical evidence that they reduce firearm violence."

The Trace, a pro-gun control website, agrees that such buybacks are ineffective.

"The most rigorous studies of gun buyback programs have found little empirical evidence to suggest that they reduce shootings, homicides, or suicides by any significant degree in either the short- or long-term."

The Medical College of Wisconsin published a peer-reviewed study finding that gun-buybacks don't remove the right kind of guns to prevent crime or suicide..

"Handguns recovered in buyback programs are not the types most commonly linked to firearm homicides and suicides," the study said. "Although buyback programs may increase awareness of firearm violence, limited resources for firearm injury prevention may be better spent in other ways."