Hundreds of guns sold to police in Bernalillo County, Santa Fe

Posted at: 02/09/2013 8:03 PM
Updated at: 02/09/2013 8:13 PM
By: Adam Camp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A little bit of controversy today at the first gun buyback event sponsored by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

BCSO distributed $40,000 in gift cards ranging from $100 to $250 in exchange for around 350 guns. The money, earmarked by the Bernalillo County Commission, was gone with two-and-a-half hours, sheriff spokesman Aaron Williamson said.

However, private buyers outside the department offered people waiting in line cash for their handguns, assault weapons or rifles.

Williamson said those transactions are legal since it is technically a private buyer and a seller doing the transaction. One of the private buyers said he felt he did a service for firearms by making cash offers.

"Honestly we've picked up a lot of nice pieces, you know. Collectible pieces, honestly stuff that wouldn't be used in criminal activity in the first place. We've saved a few nice pieces from being destroyed," Ben Palmer said.

According to private buyers, they purchased between twenty and thirty guns from the many people lined up outside the department.

Two other gun disposal events also took place in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Police Department, which does not pay for guns, collected four guns during its deposit today. APD will collect donated guns on the second Saturday of each month for the remainder of the year.

Today, Santa Fe Police collected 224 guns during a similar program today. Police in Santa Fe said their funds ran out by noon. Police have collected 418 from Santa Fe residents this year through their buyback program. 

All the guns dropped off will be demolished.

Back in Albuquerque, a family donated it’s antique shotgun even though they were not paid for the weapon.

"So we just figured that rather than giving it to somebody else and not knowing what will happen to it, we'd just get it off the street," Frank Targhetta said.

Private buyers said these events are also an economical advantage for them.

"Gun prices right now are through the roof because of the shootings and everything and the upcoming legislation. People are kinda having a bit of a panic-fest with gun pricing," Palmer said.

Pat Davis is board member with the Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers. He helped raise the $40,000 for the buyback. But he did not agree with the buyers outside the event.

"It's their right to do it, but it sort of dishonors the spirit of the program. What was really heartening is that we saw a lot of people approached by buyers, but people said my goal is to get these guns out of circulation," Davis said.

Davis said his organization will try to entice donors over the next two weeks to support more buyback events. The group will also make an appeal to the Bernalillo County Commissioners on Tuesday for more funds for another buyback.