Chris Blumenstein of Santa Fe waited in a line of cars, feeling both dread and relief as he prepared to get rid of his handgun.

“I don’t like guns,” he said. “I wish there were no guns in our society.”

He bought the Smith & Wesson .38-caliber pistol 10 years ago while on an extended camping trip in Seattle.

Now, “I have a young niece. If she came to visit and something horrible happened, that would be life-altering,” said Blumenstein, who was disturbed by the recent on-set shooting death involving actor Alec Baldwin near Santa Fe. “It just makes me realize that you just can’t plan for contingencies — that anything could happen.”

He and dozens of others took part in a gun buyback Saturday hosted by the nonprofit New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence along with the Santa Fe Police Department and the city. Event organizers invited the public to surrender unwanted firearms with no questions asked in exchange for gift cards.

“This is about getting guns that people no longer want to have in their homes, that could fall into the wrong hands, because oftentimes, you’re keeping them in a closet or under a mattress,” said Deputy Chief Ben Valdez. “We don’t want that [firearm] used for a tragic incident.”

A line of cars had already formed when the event started at 9 a.m. outside Santa Fe Municipal Court. Gun owners were instructed to bring their unwanted firearms, unloaded, in the trunks of their vehicles.

Volunteers removed the firearms and brought them to a checkpoint, run by the police department, where the weapons were inspected to ensure they weren’t loaded. From there, the guns were brought to a second checkpoint, where they were catalogued. Police ran the serial number of each weapon to ensure it wasn’t stolen.

Cleared guns were brought to a third checkpoint, where they were chopped into pieces with the use of a circular saw. The scrap metal is set to be forged into garden tools.

In exchange for the firearms, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence provided gift cards from Albertsons Market, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Food King. The group traded $250 in gift cards for an assault weapon, $200 for a semi-automatic handgun or semi-automatic rifle and $100 for a long gun or pistol. The gift cards were funded by private donations.

Bob Hazen, 76, of Santa Fe was turning in three weapons: a 12-gauge shotgun, .38-caliber pistol and 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

“Don’t need them anymore. Just cluttering up the house,” he said. “I used to hunt some years back — birds, deer.”

Lori Shepard of Santa Fe has been volunteering at gun buybacks for New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence since 2018. She said she does it “to prevent needless deaths as a result of guns.”

Shepard, now a clinical social worker, used to work in the trauma unit at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

“Seeing a 3-year-old be able to shoot a gun is very concerning,” she said. “Why are guns so easy that a 3-year-old can shoot and injure themselves?”

Mayor Alan Webber said at the buyback, “We can get them off the street and in exchange give the family something back that they need more than a potentially dangerous gun in the wrong place.”

New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence was founded in 2013 and has hosted 13 gun buyback events — four of them with Santa Fe police.

Group co-President Miranda Viscoli said she helped found the grassroots nonprofit after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults.

She said many are concerned about gun violence in New Mexico “because our numbers are so bad.”

“Gun buybacks are one of our programs,” Viscoli said. “We also do murals with students around New Mexico on gun violence prevention.”

“We’ve passed three gun violence prevention laws to date,” she said. “And now we’re working [with the governor] on an Office of Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention, so that we can actually rein in the issue of gun violence in New Mexico.”

At the start of Saturday’s event, Viscoli said the group had collected 940 firearms at its various events. After the three-hour buyback ended, it had 72 more, she said.

(32) comments

Joseph Tafoya

I was going to turn in my high-powered pellet gun, but the line of wannabe gang bangers wanting to turn in their Glocks, Akas, and assorted weaponry was so long, I got discouraged and walked away.

Katherine Martinez

I'm clinging to my gun (and my Bible), thank you very much.

Mike Johnson

Well said......[lol][lol][lol]

Kirk Holmes

Had a friend up north that got a couple of hundred bucks for “purposely” turning in a pellet gun. Lol! C’mon folks, turn in you “Red Ryder Carbine with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time”. Ralphie isn’t going to give his lever action up though!

Khal Spencer

Ralphie loved his Red Ryder; no way he would part with it. What I got at Ralphie's age was the Daisy 1894 Spittin' Image. I think it was eventually handed down to my youngest kid brother and then his kid.

Bottom line was my brothers and I grew up in a traditional gun culture and didn't have any of the problems we see today. Sadly, those days seem gone.

Kirk Holmes


Arthur Lynn

A study published in 2013 by the Violence Policy Center, using five years of nationwide statistics (2007-2011) compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that defensive gun uses occur an average of 67,740 times per year.

Khal Spencer

Contrary to the VPC (and Rand also looked at the NCVS data), we don't know and the VPC, an anti-gun organization, does it's dutiful best to put the worst light on it.

As our President pointed out, a DGU can be as simple as racking a round into the old 12 gauge to convince someone they are at the wrong address. Not always reported. The best data are on homicides since the cops show up and next, injury. Not so sure about when the firearm isn't even fired. So I take VPC's number as a likely lower limit or close to it.

Meanwhile, I'll take a more dispassionate RAND study (see below) over a highly prejudiced source such as the VPC. As Rand pointed out, its difficult to impossible to really know with any degree of certainty. A person in the Bronx who dissuades a burglar, for example, is hardly likely to announce it to the cops, give he or she probably has a gun illegally in NYS given the impossibility to obtain a permit. Meanwhile, someone in Lake Wobegon with a legal gun and a carry permit is likely to never use it. That itself leaves me scratching my head.

But go ahead, cherry pick your numbers and someone else can do the same.

Mike Johnson


Brad Doubles

Im terrified of guns after simply reading this story! /s

If you don't want to responsibly own or use firearms that is your

CHOICE! Thankfully, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution gives all the rest of us who do, the explicit right to own and use guns.

Mike Johnson

I would like to know where the funds are coming from to buy these guns. Transparency is the best policy when large sums of money are involved for political purposes.

Miranda Viscoli

The funds come from New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. We are a non-profit and are funded by donors, grants and foundations. There are no "political purposes" involved here. This is simply a service we give to our New Mexico communities to get unwanted guns out of homes. To date we have dismantled over 1000 guns. They are turned into gardening tools by Rawtools. I hope that answers your "transparency" issue. If you want more info about our organization go to

Mike Johnson

"donors, grants, and foundations" fund many political action groups, who are these people, names please. Do you have a link to your IRS Form 990 with disclosures? Where can I find that, it is not on your website.

Angel Ortiz

Seriously Dr. Mike? A really good community effort and you are dumpster diving trying to find some sort of wicked conspiracy. Ugh!

Mike Johnson

No information on the various charity websites......

David Gunter

Mike Johnson is a troll. You will never satisfy him with any information you provide so save yourself the trouble. He has all the time in the world to find this information on his own. NMPGV is a public 501(c)3 and he has the resources to get any info about them he wants on his own time.

Miranda Viscoli

Believe me I know. That is why I sent him on a search. lol

Miranda Viscoli

Keep looking Mike. You will get there. Seems like you have a lot of time on your hands . In the meantime, we will continue our work to prevent gun violence.

Mike Johnson

I think I have my answer by your and your organizations opacity and stonewalling of information. I'm not sure why you are interested in how I use my time, but since retirement I have decided to get more active and involved in the community by calling out things I see as mysterious and obfuscated from the public at large. Most all things connected to the evil game of politics fits that description.

Miranda Viscoli

"Mysterious and obfuscated" That is hilarious. There is nothing we are keeping from the public. Nice accusation though. Seems like you are using your retirement time really well. Keep digging. lol Can't wait to see what you turn up about our organization.

Russell Scanlon


Mike Johnson

Yes, your 990 is filed, but it is the EZ version, for small 501 (c) 3s, not like the large ones I have been in charge of and involved with over the years, so little data is shown. But in searching "Follow The Money", I can see you and your Board are quite active political contributors over the years, for Democrats of course, as is typical for people in your kind of business.

Kirk Holmes

I looked at rawtools website. Non-profit? hahaha! They have hand tools (that you can purchase at a hardware store for $10) listed for $80+. Non-profit ...... hahahaha!

Joseph Tafoya

Michael Bloomberg?

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] And "Everytown" and many other left gun seizure anti-2nd Amendment special interests.

Michael Kiley

A life-saving program, Albuquerque should do it. Old guns in the closet is an important part of the problem, and a buy-back is an important part of the solution. When we cleared out the home of a ninety-year-old relative, we found an old handgun. What to do with it? We took it to the police station, and they took it. But disposal is a question and buy-backs is the answer. We recycle 20 million old cars a year, melting down guns is a snap. Swords to plowshares. Prevention is another piece. I want cigarette-package type warnings affixed to every new gun and box: facts, from the FBI, CDC and Harvard School of Public health. You will never, NEVER, use a gun lethally in self-defense. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, despite 300 million guns in civilian hands in the US, there are only about 300 defensive homicides from year to year

Your chance of using a gun lethally in self-defense is 1/1,000,000. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

If you kill someone with a gun, the chance is 94% that it will be yourself, a relative or a friend

Countries that have banned semi-automatic handguns and rifles, large magazines and pump-action shotguns, like Great Britain, have 60 gun deaths a year and one mayhem event in 15 years

Gun defenders claim from 80,000 to 2.5 million non-lethal "defensive gun uses" from a group of surveys that were all flawed by the self-report error and were small samples projected onto the entire country, the Harvard School of Public Health disproved these fanciful claims in a set of papers in peer-reviewed literature never retracted and found THERE IS NO VALID NUMBER FOR CLAIMED NON-LETHAL SELF-DEFENSIVE GUN USES, AND MOST WERE ACUTALLY PROVOCATIONS BY THE GUN TOTER FOLLOWED BY BRANDISHING

Miranda Viscoli


Khal Spencer

The number of DGU's are all over the map and obviously, you cherry pick Hemenway's work as a worst case end member. I think Kleck's are too high but deciding a DGU was a crime rather than legitimate based on the opinion of an anti-gun researcher's supposition rather than a criminal court finding is dishonest at best.

Another view.

That Time The CDC Asked About Defensive Gun Uses

Paul Hsieh, Contributor

I agree with Dep. Chief Valdez that guns sitting in drawers or under beds can be "found" by people who shouldn't have access to them. A lockbox or a safe works pretty well in lessening that risk. Indeed, people who have no idea whether their firearms are secure from misuse (and the remedy depends on the situation) likely shouldn't have them.

Khal Spencer

Pretty good review of what we know about defensive gun uses from RAND.

Two sets of conclusions.


Estimates for the prevalence of DGU span wide ranges and include high-end estimates—for instance, 2.5 million DGUs per year—that are not plausible given other information that is more trustworthy, such as the total number of U.S. residents who are injured or killed by guns each year. At the other extreme, the NCVS estimate of 116,000 DGU incidents per year almost certainly underestimates the true number. There have been few substantive advances in measuring prevalence counts or rates since the NRC (2004) report. The fundamental issues of how to define DGU and what method for obtaining and assessing those measurements is the most unbiased have not been resolved. As a result, there is still considerable uncertainty about the prevalence of DGU. Efforts to resolve the uncertainty provide insight into some, but not all, aspects of DGU measurement, which may drive the large differences in prevalence estimates. The difficulties of defining and measuring DGU have implications for understanding not only the prevalence of DGU but also the relationship between DGU and outcomes of interest, such as the probability of victimization and injury. We turn to the evidence on this question in the next section.

..and the conclusions of the next section...


There has been little empirical work since the NRC (2004) report, so the serious limitations in the literature remain largely unresolved. At first glance, individuals engaged in DGU appear less likely to lose property and suffer injury and more likely to report that their action helped the outcome. However, several important caveats emerge. First, it is not clear that DGU is uniquely beneficial relative to other actions. Second, given that the literature is largely based on cross-tabulations and relatively basic multivariate analyses, when associations are found between DGU and reduced injury, for instance, it is not clear whether this is due to a causal effect of the DGUs on reduced injury or whether the circumstances that make a DGU possible also make injury less likely. In the latter case, it may not be DGUs that reduce the likelihood of injury but rather unique features of the circumstances in which DGUs occur. For instance, individuals may be more likely to defend themselves with a weapon when they feel that they have a greater opportunity to be successful in that defense, which may bias estimates toward a beneficial impact of gun use. Statistical models designed to identify the causal effect of DGUs on various outcomes have not yet been reported.

Survey-based analyses of the effects of DGU suffer from more-general limitations. For example, individuals reporting the outcomes were also the ones who made the decision to engage in DGU, which may influence their assessment. Furthermore, survey data cannot be used to assess the relationship between DGU and fatalities, because those killed during incidents cannot be included. And more broadly, it is unclear whether this literature, which rests largely on the NCVS, suffers from the limited generalizability of DGU events within its scope. It has been widely noted that DGUs not involving an included crime category are less likely to be captured by the NCVS. To the extent that these incidents have different outcomes or different characteristics, NCVS-based findings may not be generalizable. Efforts to use other sources of data, however, have encountered similar limitations regarding the size and representativeness of samples and the ability to identify the causal effects of DGU.

Finally, even if DGUs have a positive causal effect on such outcomes as injuries and property loss, it may still be the case that DGUs do not provide net societal benefits if many or most involve illegal use of firearms. Whether any net societal harms outweigh the benefits to those individuals who succeed with legitimate or just DGU in protecting their own or others’ well-being is a value judgment that society must make. Having better data on the frequency of legitimate and illegitimate DGU, and on the magnitude of harms and benefits associated with those events, would assist in making that judgment.

For these reasons, we conclude that the existing evidence for any causal effect of DGU on reducing harm to individuals or society is inconclusive.

Khal Spencer

As I read Rand, a legitimate DGU, i.e., dissuading a home invader, , may involve an illegal use of a firerarm, i.e., having a gun in NYS that is not licensed. So even that is a murky question.

Lots of variables here. As far as whether a gun makes you safer or less safe, I suggest Prof. David Yamane's analysis of some of the various csae control statistical analyses that get tossed around uncritically. Clearly, whether it is a good idea to own guns, especially for self defense when they are often more accessible than say, an elk rifle that can be locked in a safe all the time, has risks as well as potential benefits.

Enough on this. Unless I send in my own editorial.

Mike Johnson


Khal Spencer

"... AND MOST WERE ACUTALLY PROVOCATIONS BY THE GUN TOTER FOLLOWED BY BRANDISHING..." Not sure that's what the Harvard folks said, and they don't use cap lock.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.