At the recent General Assembly an overture from the Santa Fe Presbytery was affirmed, asking churches to consider taking part in the Guns to Gardens project:
1. Give thanks for, pray for, and commend the congregations and organizations that have initiated the Guns to Gardens project as a way to responsibly dispose of unwanted firearms, turning them into garden tools rather than returning them to the gun market.
2. Recommend to the churches and presbyteries of the PC(USA) that they learn about the Guns to Gardens project and prayerfully consider if it is a ministry to which they are called, as part of the PC(USA) witness to prevent gun violence, save lives, and provide healing for a nation traumatized by violence.”
Did you know what we already have a church in Baltimore involved in Guns to Gardens? First and Franklin is hosting a Gun Buy-back on September 17. Anyone with an unwanted gun in their home can bring it (unloaded) to First and Franklin that Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. Volunteers will assist in taking the guns from cars and walking donors to the site of a chop saw which will dismantle the gun. The metal from the gun will then be refashioned by a blacksmith into a garden tool, reminding us of the prophecy that swords will be turned into pruning-hooks.
The goal of Guns to Gardens is not to convince criminals to give up their weapons, but to provide a way to remove unwanted guns from homes. Guns left in homes can be used in suicides, in domestic conflicts, and in accidental discharges by children. They can also be stolen and used in future crimes. The safest choice is to have no guns in the home.
Donors of unwanted guns will be given gift cards ranging from $100 for handguns to $250 for automatic weapons. The Peacemaking Committee of First and Franklin is currently raising funds for these gift cards and other lesser expenses for the program. The Baltimore Presbytery has already approved a Community Engagement Grant for this project, and the committee is seeking grants from corporations and businesses as well as donations from individuals. They still need another $7,000 to meet their budget for the project.
Other congregations may want to share in the purchase of gift cards. From other projects around the country, we learned that donors prefer Walmart and Amazon cards which can be used for a variety of needs. The committee would also welcome gift cards from local groceries but prefer not to use Visa cards which might be used for unhealthy products. Cards should be in $50 or $100 denominations. Cash donations to the project are also welcome. Checks can be mailed to 210 W Madison St, 20201, or there is a PayPal link on the church web site.
Other congregations may want to help in future buy-back programs with First and Franklin or start their own program in their area. Training is available from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and the Peacemaking Committee of F&F will have learnings to share.