This past summer, as the NRA rallied enthusiasts with the specter of a Cinton-led assault on 2nd Amendment rights, Rev Jeremy Lucas pooled money to buy raffle tickets for an AR-15.
A local softball team in Portland, OR was raffling the gun to raise money for a team trip. Rev. Lucas bought half the tickets and won the AR-15. Spending $3, 000, Rev. Lucas said, “this gun will never be used to kill kids in schools, kill people in a movie theater, kill people at an office party or at any other place of mass shootings. This gun will never be found by a child who accidently shoots a friend. … It will never be stolen and used to commit a crime or used to threaten a family in a domestic violence situation. If I had the chance for $3, 000 to keep any of these things from happening — even one time — I’d do it again in a second.”
But what do you do with an AR-15 that you never want to hurt anyone?
Rev. Lucas teamed up with RAWtools to beat his modern-day sword into a plowshare. We decided to make it into a garden hoe.
For Rev. Lucas, it was a small symbolic act that points communities toward a way of peace and nonviolence. Rev. Lucas has been invited to attend the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath, which begins in Washington, D.C. today. There he will give the tool made from the AR-15 to the Newtown Action Alliance, founded by the community of Newtown, CT after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Nearly four years ago, this shooting prompted the beginning of RAWtools. We are honored to, in some small way, give something back to that community.
We cannot fall asleep on gun violence in our country. While mass shootings make the headlines far too often, they are a window into the 91 lives lost everyday to gun violence in our communities. Suicide, toddler shootings, domestic violence, road rage, police shootings, hate crimes and acts of terrorism are all ways that gun violence cries out to us each day.
We must create safe space and provide resources for our communities to deal with our pain. This is the work of turning swords into plowshares. This is why Rev. Lucas needed to get the AR-15 and have it made into a garden tool. We must work together to plant the seeds that build neighborhoods and help us take care of each other rather than being on constant defense. We have a gun and a heart problem–and we all need to be disarmed.
I think Rev. Lucas says it well, “I really want people to know that this is a symbolic act meant to wake people from their complacency from what we have come to expect as normal. We are normalizing gun violence in ways we have never done before. We accept active shooter drills in elementary schools as normal now! Why? In this season of Advent we need to keep awake, as we prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace we must become that peace.”
Beating swords into plowshares is a new spiritual discipline required to refocus our imagination and our hearts to become the peace Rev. Lucas is asking us to be. We can follow the Prince of Peace toward a less violent world. This Advent season, may we all find the courage to turn the swords of our life into plowshares.