We recently took a group of high school students to Cleveland to hear from authors and activists, Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin from RAWtools. RAWtools is doing the good work of engaging folks of all ages in discussing alternative means to the gun violence we are witnessing on the news, in our neighborhoods and schools, and inside homes.
Mr. Martin, a 36-year-old Mennonite from Colorado Springs and former youth pastor, was inspired to learn blacksmithing after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012. He started RAWtools, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “converting the 'swords' of contemporary America — handguns, assault weapons and semiautomatic rifles — into garden tools, or erstwhile plowshares, at once fulfilling the Old Testament mandate and forging a new kind of public ritual for processing grief." The Cleveland event was just one stop on the RAWtools National Tour, where a large group gathered to hear personal testimonies from people in the community directly impacted by gun violence, and to watch as a semiautomatic weapon was dismantled and forged into a garden tool.
Those directly impacted by gun violence were invited to participate in the making of the tool by hammering the hot metal as it rested on the anvil. We watched as the mothers, aunts, fathers, teachers, and children who had lost loved ones to gun violence beat the hot metal. One of our students, whose father was fatally shot one evening outside of the Lighthouse, joined the group in making the tool. To say that the experience was powerful, healing, reflective, needed... is an understatement. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation; they will train for war no more. Everyone will sit under their own vine and fig tree. No one shall make them afraid.” Isaiah 2:4