September 11 — Building on an ongoing effort to help reduce gun violence, the United Church of Christ of Longmont will host a gun buyback event, where people can trade in guns for a gift card ranging from from $ 100 to $ 300. The donated gun parts will then be converted into gardening tools.
The gun buyback event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on September 25. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. that day, the public is invited to watch a blacksmith transform weapons into garden tools. The church is in partnership with Colorado Springs-based RAWtools, a non-violence advocacy organization that turns guns into garden tools. Partners in the effort also include the nonprofit El Committee of Longmont and Out Boulder County.
The Reverend Sarah Verasco, Senior Minister of the United Church of Christ of Longmont, said this month’s event is for gun owners who want to get rid of their guns in a way ” easy, anonymous and hassle-free “.
“In some ways this event looks like a recycling event,” Verasco said. “You know how when you return pieces of metal and get money? You’re going to hand in weapons that are going to be deactivated in the presence of the gun owners and then they are going to get gift cards.”
Longmont Church hosted a gun safety box giveaway in July. During the event, they distributed 137 biometric safes and 55 automatic locking boxes. This month’s event builds on that effort and is part of a collective call among churches in Boulder County to help reduce gun violence.
Community United Church of Christ of Boulder, 2650 Table Mesa Drive, hosted its own gun buyback event on June 13. Mike Martin, executive director of RAWtools, said the organization collected 34 guns from Boulder Church to turn them into garden tools. The church is located near the Mesa King Soopers Table where 10 people died in a mass shooting on March 22.
Martin said the Boulder Church redemption event received an overall positive response from the community.
“For the most part, it was a welcome way for people to do something constructive to reduce gun violence in their community and also a way to offer hope as we turn a gun into a tool of garden, ”Martin said.
RAWtools also worked with Boulder Mennonite Church in April to convert donated guns into garden tools. The flagship tools created by the organization are a hand shovel and a garden pickaxe.
Working with a sister church in Longmont to organize a similar event seemed like a natural step, Martin said.
Verasco stressed that the donation is not considered a transfer of firearms.
“He is someone who freely brings his weapon to this event,” said Verasco. “It will be deactivated in the presence of the owner, who will then give us gun parts.”
Church member Ann Noonan said the two Longmont Church events were aimed at reducing the risk of gun violence, while allowing people to take positive action.
“There has been so much gun violence in the community and the country that people are trying to come up with, ‘What can I do to have some impact? “Instead of wringing our hands,” Noonan said.
Another church member, Dede Alspaugh, noted the event as “a safe and anonymous opportunity.”
There are several reasons why Church members in Longmont have said people might want to donate their weapons, including if they have inherited weapons they don’t want or need. ‘loved one. They might also have had a change in life status, such as welcoming a child or grandchild into the world and having concerns about the safety of the weapon. Whatever their reason, the church encouraged people to participate. Although the serial number of the weapon is registered, people who donate weapons will not have to prove ownership.
At least two of the Longmont church members have already pledged to donate their weapons. In an email shared by Verasco, church member John Parsons said he plans to donate on September 25.
“When I surrender two guns on the 25th and make a few, I will give thanks to our good Lord and my heart and soul will be lighter,” Parsons wrote.
Those wishing to participate in the event and having a weapon to donate are asked to leave the weapon unloaded in the trunk of their car. If they don’t have a safe, they can leave it in the back seat. Volunteers will come to their car to collect the weapon and bring it to a station to be deactivated. Ammo cannot be donated when redeeming.
Martin said the guns turned into garden tools are sold to support the work of RAWtools. People can purchase the tools from the organization’s website. The organization will donate at least one of the gardening tools to the Longmont United Church of Christ, which has a community garden.
The gift cards offered to those who donate are a mix of Kroger store cards and Visa cards. The denomination people receive will depend on the type and number of weapons someone brings to the redemption. The church has contributed $ 25,000 to help pay for safes in July and gift cards for the upcoming event. The Longmont Community Foundation also raised funds to support both initiatives. People can still donate on the foundation’s website at bit.ly/3nxtEzh.
“If you have weapons that you don’t want or don’t use, we’re going to deactivate them,” Verasco said.