Give! 2021: RAWtools turns guns into garden tools


COLORADO SPRINGS — Mike Martin, executive director of RAWtools, founded the organization roughly nine years ago, after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

“My wife was an elementary school teacher at the time, and the same number of kids that were killed that day were the same number of kids that were in her classroom. So, along with some other things, that was one of the galvanizing moments,” Martin said.

A view of the garage RAWtools using for their workshop. Credit: Brandon Seffrood

The idea of turning weapons into garden tools, Martin said, came from the passage in the Bible that says, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares,” (Isaiah 2:4b). So, instead of swords, he applied the concept to guns.

Pounding out a piece of a gun to fashion a garden mattock. Credit: Brandon Seffrood

But, the organization doesn’t just make garden tools… they also fashion pieces of art, jewelry and talking pieces, made to establish talking points for conflict resolution that doesn’t end in violence.

Martin said that RAWtools helps the community in many different ways such as offering places for people who no longer want their guns, to donate them safely. They also host events where people with history of gun violence can talk about their experiences and “take their turn at the anvil.” This allows each member to hit a piece of metal from the gun and make their own mark on the tool.

Mike Martin starts to create the fork in the garden mattock with his father. Credit: Brandon Seffrood

“It’s important to remind our communities that the trauma of gun violence lasts beyond the year that it happened, and that these families are dealing with this for the rest of their life,” Martin said.

Donations from the Indy Give! Campaign, Martin said, will help them be able to continue to fan the flames and do the things they do.

The furnace reaches a temperature of a about two thousand degrees. Credit: Brian Sefrood

“A lot of the funds raised from last year has helped us reestablish some equipment that we needed,” Martin said. “It’s also helped us get to more events…we can do these buybacks for free in communities when we have funds like that, but it’s also starting to save for that public space that we need to invite people to participate in what we do.”

With the holidays coming up and as a unique gift idea, Martin said if you donate a gun, you get a garden tool out of it for free.

For more information on how to donate or volunteer, visit their website here.

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