taking the words of Jesus seriously

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary sent shock waves across the country. Many thought it would be a turning point in federal gun legislation. That didn’t happen. Many states took local action by passing background check laws and magazine limits.

We started RAWtools two months after the shooting to approach the issue from a different angle. By turning swords into plowshares and guns into garden tools, we’re advocating for an altogether different approach to violence in our country. An approach that elevates the Sermon on the Mount over the 2nd Amendment. An approach that adds action to “thoughts and prayers.” Or put another way, our thoughts and prayers compel action.

READ: Sandy Hook and the Tearing Asunder of Evangelical Christianity

The #HonorWithAction campaign was started by the Newtown Action Alliance in 2014, two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took the lives of 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six educators.

The #HonorWithAction campaign compels us to look at all of our options to take action to end gun violence. When the campaign launched, Marie Morosky, then in third grade said, “I miss my friends who were killed on December 14th,” as Morosky wore a green sweater, the color that’s come to be symbolic of Sandy Hook. “I honor their memories with action.”

In 2016, a Portland, OR, softball team was raffling an AR-15 (similar to the Bushmaster used at Sandy Hook) to raise money for a tournament trip. Unnerved, local Episcopalian pastor Rev. Jeremy Lucas sprang into action and used ministry funds to buy half of the raffle tickets for the sole purpose of destroying the gun if we won. And he did.

Because Rev. Lucas took action, along with his prayers, he was invited to The Newtown Foundation’s annual vigil, where he gifted the tool.

This is why we are going to New Haven, Conn., in 2018.

Next year, RAWtools will be training inmates at the New Haven Correctional Center in partnership with the Newtown Foundation, Newtown Action Alliance, New Haven Police Department, and artist Gar Waterman, to forge guns into garden tools to be used in local community gardens.

After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Steve Yanovsky of Newtown Action Alliance began to dream big. He helped organize gun buybacks, then connected with police and the correctional center. His efforts have expanded “farm-to-table” to “gun-to-garden-tool-to-farm-to-table.”

If any of the food grown from these tools makes it back to the correctional facility, a beautiful circle has been created. A circle that looks entirely different than the victim-offender cycle.

“Read with a child, volunteer at a food bank, put some money in the meter for the next person who’s holiday shopping,” said Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D – 5th District of CT). “Take some time to reach out and help someone else.”

Take action long before it escalates to gun violence. Christmas is coming — be Emmanuel in your community. Together, we can end gun violence.

This article was adapted from RAWtools.

About The Author

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Mike is the founder and Executive Director of RAWtools. A former youth and young adult pastor at Beth-El Mennonite Church, Mike is licensed for specialized ministry for the work of RAWtools by Mountain States Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA. Mike also serves on the leadership board for MSMC. He has a BA in Biblical studies. Mike is writing a book on gun violence with Shane Claiborne called "Beating Guns: A Book for People Who are Tired of Violence" out in 2018.

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