Unwanted guns buried in Santa Fe landfill

SANTA FE (KRQE) – They were trying to help the city by taking unwanted guns off the streets, but police quickly realized getting rid of two tons of guns safely, isn’t so easy. It took one New Mexico city a year to figure out how to do it and they took an interesting approach.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but that’s not in the case for about 600 unwanted guns in Santa Fe. They met their demise when a bulldozer rolled over them Wednesday morning at a landfill.

“We had a challenge in disposing of these guns, we wanted to make sure that they were thoroughly destructed so that you couldn’t put any pieces together, couldn’t be reconstructed in any way,” explained Celina Espinoza, spokesperson for the Santa Fe Police Department.

The gear is from last year’s gun buyback program, which was a first for the city. In an effort to get rid of unwanted armor, people exchanged handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, all types of hardware, for $100 to $200 Visa gift cards.

“The whole gun buyback I think overall was very beneficial to the city because it gave people an outlet to bring in those weapons that they might not have felt comfortable with,” said Espinoza.

Part of the deal was anonymity. But the city accidentally released some names last year, when it handed out IOUs after gift cards ran out. IOUs are no longer issued.

The other part of the deal was that the guns be destroyed, never to land in the wrong hands. And police said this was the best, most cost-effective way.

Some of the destroyed guns are from closed criminal cases. Police said all serial numbers were checked to make sure none had been used in any open crimes.

The guns were destroyed early in the morning so the day’s trash from the city, roughly 500 tons, went right on top. The idea is to bury them, never to be found again.

Fifty antique guns from the buyback were donated to the New Mexico Military Museum. Another 50 unique guns went to the State Crime Lab to help in any ballistic investigations.

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