Turning a gun into a garden tool to honor MLK

 Blacksmith Mike Martin, who founded the Colorado-based nonprofit RawTools after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, transforms a rifle into a farm tool Wednesday night. (Brad Larrison/ for NewsWorks)

Blacksmith Mike Martin, who founded the Colorado-based nonprofit RawTools after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, transforms a rifle into a farm tool Wednesday night. (Brad Larrison/ for NewsWorks)

At an event in Philadelphia honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Wednesday evening, anti-violence activists turned a gun into a garden tool.

A local resident donated the .22-caliber rifle, which was broken down into pieces and forged into a non-traditional garden tool as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s annual commemoration for King.

The blacksmith was Mike Martin, who founded the Colorado-based nonprofit RawTools after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. His mission to “disarm guns and forge peace” has taken him around the country, including to another event in Pennsylvania involving Terri Roberts, the mother of the man who shot and killed five Amish schoolgirls in 2006.

Philadelphia-based Christian peace activist and author Shane Claiborne has teamed up with Martin in Philadelphia before. He said it’s a cathartic experience for people who want to do something to stop gun violence.

“It’s so powerful to see a mom who’s lost her kid beating on a gun and this one mother as she beat it, she said, ‘This is for my son’ and she was remembering her son who was killed on the streets of Philadelphia,” Claiborne said. “It’s just hard to argue with someone’s pain and that’s really what’s behind this. It’s not just a political protest, but I think it’s a deep lament.”

It’s also an action with biblical roots, inspired by the passage in the book of Isaiah, which said God’s people would “beat their swords into plows and their spears into pruning hooks.”

The garden tool created Wednesday, which has a hoe on one side and a fork on the other, will eventually be donated to a local nonprofit.

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