What was promised to be an anonymous gun buyback in New Mexico was anything but for dozens of people who surrendered their firearms to police and then saw their names and addresses entered into the public record.
Santa Fe police offered $100, $150, and $200 prepaid Visa gift cards for residents who wanted to turn in their rifles, shotguns, and handguns, KRQE-TV reported.
But organizers ran out of gift cards, and offered IOUs to people who still wanted to turn over their guns. They took down contact info — names, addresses, and phone numbers — that was meant to be used only to pay people back. In total, 49 people took IOUs at a buyback in January, and 43 took them at another one in February.
“With that IOU we’ll take down your name and contact information so that we could get them the money that the city owed them,” Santa Fe City Attorney Geno Zamora told the station.
The police department had budgeted $20,000 for the buybacks, but after running out of gift cards went to the city to request $33,000 for the next event in March. In doing so, it provided the city information on the buyback program, including the list of 92 people it owed money: their addresses, phone numbers, and the weapons the city bought from each one.
The information was put into a packet for the city council and, just like that, became public record.
“It shouldn’t have happened, but it did,” Santa Fe Police Chief Raymond Rael told KRQE. “I apologize on behalf of the city, I don’t think that information should’ve been out there.”
New Mexico state Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe.) was one person whose name was released.
Records show he sold the city three firearms in January. He said he wasn’t concerned about his name being released as much as about how it could affect future participation.
“My concern is for those who do wish to remain anonymous, that there be a way for them to do so and for them to be able to rely on the city’s assertion that they’ll remain anonymous,” Egolf told KRQE.
Zamora said the city is still trying to determine who is responsible for putting the information out. In the meantime, Rael said the department won’t be offering IOUs at the next buyback March 9.
“We’re going to offer nothing but the Visa cards, and once we’re out of them, we’re done,” he said.
Featured image screen grab.