American pastors fight gun problem by forging them into ‘plowshares’

Published 1:58 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

By Isla Harvey, SWNS

Two American pastors are tackling gun crime – by turning them into garden tools.

Shane Claiborne and Mike Martin are on a blacksmithing tour of the US, where they forge pistols, rifles and assault weapons into hoes, shovels and mattocks.

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The pair took inspiration from the Bible passage Isaiah 2:4: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

“We’re transforming tools that bring death into tools that cultivate life,” said Mike, 36, who founded RAWtools six years ago, after the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 small children and six adults were murdered.

“My wife is a first grade teacher, so after that happened it really hit home, the amount of kids that died that day was the exact number she she has in her class.

“I decided that I needed to do something right away.

“America is a country in which mass shootings have become commonplace, we’ve become better at protecting guns than protecting people.

Shane, 43, from North Philadelphia, has lost several people in his neighborhood to gun violence.

One man was shot near his doorstep, so Shane he stayed with him until the ambulance arrived, but the man did not survive his wounds.

Mike and Shane are now traveling to 35 towns across America. In each location people show up to donate unwanted firearms.

“Guns are donated by people who are sick of the gun violence problem, they are donated by people who have lost loved ones to gun violence, they are donated by people who are happy to have one less lethal weapon on our streets,” said Mike, who lives in Colorado.

“One mother recently gave us the gun that her husband used to commit suicide, they have a ten-month-old child together…it was very emotional for her to watch us disable the gun and chop it into pieces.

“Sometimes the gun donors take the garden tool we’ve made from their gun, sometimes they want nothing more to do with it.”

Make and Shane also encourage grieving donors to beat the barrel of their disabled gun over an anvil.

“They often cry when they hit the barrel, they beat it as many times as the age of the person they lost to gun violence.

“Recently a reformed convict beat the barrel 18 times, that was the age of the person he’d killed with a gun many years ago. He’s served his time in prison and has become an advocate for gun reform.

“On the anvil grief can be transformed into hope, we’re not just transforming metal we are transforming our neighborhoods and our communities, making them safer.”

As Christians who practice nonviolence, both Shane and Mike believe “Christians can not carry a cross in one hand and a weapon in the other.”

About 38,000 per year die in the US from guns, according to the CDC.

An estimated 73,000 people per year are shot and survive, many of them injured in life-altering ways.

“We believe that it is not the will of God for approximately 105 people to die from guns each day in the U.S.,” said Mike

Shane and Mike have authored the book Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence.

They have also launched the Disarming Network, to help people find safe spaces to disable guns according to Federal ATF guidelines.

“We will not wait on politicians to turn death into life,” said Mike.

“The beauty of the prophets’ vision is that the people themselves transform their weapons.

“Peace begins with the people of God, who refuse to kill, and beat their weapons into farm tools. We will make violence extinct by refusing to kill.”