Gun ‘buyback’ provides secure outlet for unwanted firearms

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Taos County residents with unwanted and still-working firearms are invited to trade in their weapons for gift certificates and a good cause at the inaugural "Guns to Gardens Gun Buyback," scheduled for Saturday (May 20) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Taos County Sheriff's Office, 599 Lovato Place in Taos.

One of the sponsors for the event is New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. Staff at the nonprofit completed a fundraising effort this year to host its third statewide buyback event – the first in Taos, according to a press release.

LMNOC Broadcasting will also be on-site Saturday as guns are exchanged for gift certificates said to range from $100-250, "depending on the gun."

Welding and sculpture students with RAW Tools - a Colorado-based art collective - and Santa Fe Community College will convert the unwanted weapons into gardening tools and public art projects. A makeshift "chop shop" will be available on-site so traders can watch the transformation.

While some feel it is necessary to have a gun in their home, others may look for a secure outlet for getting rid of their unwanted weapons. The event offers a constructive way of doing so - and bills its mission, in part, as a means of reducing gun violence in communities in New Mexico.

According to data compiled for the press release, the New Mexico Department of Health recorded 405 gun shooting deaths in 2015 in New Mexico - a number that increased by 16.4 percent from 2014, "the largest increase in gun deaths in decades."

The release also states that New Mexico children "are killed by firearms at a rate that is 60 [percent] higher than the national average" and acknowledges that it can be difficult to get rid of a gun safely once it is in an individual's possession.

Guns can also attract burglars to homes and businesses, as evidenced by the recent burglary of SMD Zombie Tactical in Taos. According to a report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 70 firearms were reported stolen during burglaries in New Mexico last year. Firearms "are much more likely to be stolen from homes and autos than ever used for self defense," according to the release.

The gun exchange on Saturday is also anonymous with no questions asked about the firearms brought in.

More information can be found at newmexicanstopreventgunviolence.org.

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