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Commissioner O'Malley Unveils Bernalillo County's First-of-its-Kind Safe Surrender and Gun Buy-Back Program


Commissioner Debbie O’Malley speaking to a groupDistrict 1 County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, joined by other local officials, today introduced the county’s Safe Surrender and Gun Buy-Back program, which allows people to turn in firearms to authorities, no questions asked, and receive compensation in return.

Commissioner O'Malley was joined by Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins, Commissioner Art De La Cruz, Sheriff Dan Houston, Pat Davis from Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers and Tijeras Mayor Gloria Chavez for the announcement.

“In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and more recently and closer to home, the tragic killing of an Albuquerque family just weeks ago, we must continue the conversations about what we can do to reduce gun violence in our community,”  says Commissioner Debbie O’Malley. “My hope is that through our Safe Surrender program families consider the risks guns in home may pose—especially if they are unsafely stored and accessible to children. Our program is an opportunity for individuals to receive compensation while getting rid of unwanted or unneeded guns or assault rifles.”

Individuals may bring any unloaded and operational firearms to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department North Area Command Center, 6900 4th Street NW, on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the South Area Command Center, 2039 Isleta Blvd. SW, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.    

“Given the unspeakable pain caused by accidental shootings and senseless gun violence, we must do everything possible to raise awareness about the threat of unsecured or unneeded weapons. In combination with firearm safety education, this buyback program gives people a reason to think about the guns they have in their homes and decide whether they present a risk to their families or the public,” says Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department will be on-hand to make sure the guns are in working condition and are not loaded before being surrendered. All weapons will be checked for lost or stolen status, and if applicable will be returned to their rightful owners. All other firearms will be prepared for destruction by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. Crime Stoppers will be on hand to ensure complete anonymity.

·The following requirements will apply for acceptance to the firearms buy-back plan:
Working firearms that are no longer wanted by the owner
Working firearms that have been inherited from a family member which are no longer wanted
Working firearms that have been altered or modified

·Participants will be paid with VISA gift cards if the firearm meets those requirements.

·The payment for each type of weapons will be:
$150 for any working handgun
$100 for any working long gun (rifle or shotgun)
$200 for any working high capacity or assault weapon system. An “assault weapon” shall be any 
semi-automatic, magazine fed, military style rifle or carbine

Any non-working weapons, ammunition, or any imitation and/or low-powered air weapons, which are difficult to distinguish from real weapons and therefore pose a danger, may be surrendered for destruction however, no payment will be made.

Further information including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Bernalillo County Safe Surrender and Buy Back Program can be found at www.bernco.gov.

Safe Surrender: Bernalillo County Gun Buy-Back Program FAQ

Bernalillo County answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about its Safe Surrender Gun Buy-Back Program to take place on Feb. 9 and Feb. 23, 2013.

1) What is the gun buy-back program?

This gun buy-back will compensate individuals for the voluntary surrender of firearms, while engaging our community towards a common goal of reducing gun violence. Initiated by County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, the county is partnering with Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office to collect firearms where individuals can surrender their firearms - no questions asked.

2) What are the dates and locations?

Two locations have been selected for where the gun buy-back program will take place:

Feb. 9, 2013: North Valley Command Center, 6900 4th St NW

Feb. 23, 2013: South Area Command Center, 2039 Isleta Blvd. SW

3) What are the times?

The gun buy-back will take place from 9:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.

4) What is the amount per gun?

Here’s what will be compensated:

  • Long guns (rifles or shotguns), $100;
  • Handguns, $150;
  • High capacity or assault weapons (semi-automatic, magazine fed, military style rifle or carbine), $200.

All guns must be unloaded and operational to be accepted for payment.

Ammunition and non-operational weapons may be surrendered for destruction but no payment will be made.

5) Will I be given cash?

Individuals will be compensated with pre-paid VISA cards.

6) Is this a sting? Will the Sheriff’s Office be taking pictures of participants and writing down license plate numbers?

No. The gun buy-back is not a sting. It is an anonymous process in which individuals can surrender their weapons, no questions asked. Law enforcement officials will not be taking pictures of participants, nor will they be logging license plate numbers or running ballistic tests on the guns that are turned in.

7) What officials will be monitoring the program on the day of the gun buy-back?

A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputy will be on site during the scheduled dates to determine if the submitted firearm is operational and safely unloaded.

8) Is there a limit to how many firearms I can turn in?

No. However, we reserve the right to limit the amount of funds an individual can receive, regardless of the amount of firearms the individual has surrendered.

9) What happens if I decide to turn in a gun at the gun buy-back, then I decide I want to keep it?

Once a firearm is surrendered at the gun buy-back it becomes property of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, at which time the firearm will not be returned.

10) What happens if you run out of funds?

The quantity of funds is limited and subject to availability.

11) Will you check for lost or stolen status of the weapons? If so, will you return to owner?

Yes. All weapons will be checked for lost or stolen status. Stolen checks will not be conducted on site and clear “title” to the weapon is not a pre-condition to surrender a weapon. Every effort will be made to return lost and/or stolen firearms to their rightful owners.

12) What will happen to the weapons once they are collected?

All weapons will be checked for lost or stolen status, and if applicable will be returned to their rightful owners. All other firearms will be prepared for destruction by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. Conversations have taken place to use the scrap metal for a school art project.

13) Can I turn in the gun for someone else?

Yes. The gun buy-back is completely anonymous and no questions will be asked.

14) Who can I contact if I have a gun that I want to turn in after the event?

In the event you are not able to attend the gun buy-back event you may contact the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office at (505) 468-7100. However, the gun buy-back event is the only way to receive compensation for the firearm.

15) How is this event being paid for?

Bernalillo County is providing the initial start up funds for up to $50,000 and will be working with Crime Stoppers to secure additional corporate and non-profit program sponsors.


16) Can residents from outside the city turn in their weapons?

Yes. Although the event is specifically geared for residents of Bernalillo County, residency will not be asked upon surrendering of firearms.

To see the video of the news conference, please click on the graphic below.

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