Tools forged from unwanted firearms are donated to community gardens and agricultural schools along the East Coast.
On Saturday, September 24, Grace Episcopal Church in Bath melted down guns into jewelry and gardening tools to raise awareness about gun safety.
Swords to Plowshares was established in 2017, working alongside volunteer blacksmiths and local law enforcement to transform unwanted firearms into garden tools, rhythm instruments and jewelry, according to co-founder Jim Curry. This was the group’s first event in Maine.
Curry said choosing to start Swords to Plowshares wasn’t just about the growing gun problem in America; it was personal. In 2012, while he was working as a bishop in Connecticut, two children in his parish were killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting.
“We don’t have to be bound by the violence that is around us. We can take charge of that,” said Curry. “And we do that in such a way that isn’t shaming really anybody, but to say, ‘We have the choice. I can turn in my gun, or I can safely store it.’ We have the choice to follow ancient prophecies.” he said.
According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 45,000 people are killed by guns in America each year. The CDC also reported a 35% increase in gun-related homicides and a growing rate of suicides from 2019 to 2020.
According to the Swords to Plowshares website, “The strategy we apply to this problem is to convert weapons of death into tools of life and then use those tools for the betterment of the community, all with the goal of reducing senseless gun deaths.”
Curry said materials used to make garden tools come from “buyback” or “takeback” days — when locals turn unwanted guns and ammunition in to local police for destruction.
The last takeback day in Maine was June 11, according to mainegunsafety.org/.