NT Police partners with local churches to help families heal after gun violence
There’s a movement underway in WNY, to convert guns that have been involved with street violence into gardening tools. I initially wrote about this effort back in January, as Mark Stradley and Steve Johnson were formulating plans to further develop and roll out their RawTools Project (local chapter). At the time, the two were working towards solidifying a stronger relationship with local police departments, to acquire their seized gun stocks, which there are plenty of.
This past Saturday, the RawTools Project teamed up with the North Tonawanda Police department, local pastors, and volunteers, to host a demo. Together, the team took long guns that would otherwise have been destroyed, and cut them down (according to specifications obtained from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) using cutoff saws. The remains were then handed over to RawTools so that they can be fashioned into garden tools.
“The RawTools Project is an outreach ministry of our church where we forge disarmed guns into useful things like garden tools and pieces of art,” said Steve Johnson, Pastor of Anchor Church in Buffalo. “We also host events where people who have experienced loss and pain from gun violence can melt down pieces in our forge as a part of a healing process.”
Altogether, 80 long guns were cut up, thanks to the combined efforts of Anchor Church and The NT Police Department, as well as Lumber City Church in North Tonawanda, which brought the various organizations together. Moving forward, Lumber City Church will be creating another entity called The Garden Church, which will be located on their property at 2358 Delaware Avenue, near Hertel. That is the same site that will host the RawTools project in the future, which will include a community garden – Imagine Community Garden – that will utilize the refashioned tools to grow vegetables for local food banks and neighbors in need.
“There is a story behind each of the firearms that we confiscate,” said Detective Captain Daryl Truty of The NT Police Department, who is responsible for clearing the guns for disarmament. “It’s good to be part of seeing these stories have a better end. We’re glad to partner with these churches to help our community heal.”
The RawTools Project will host blacksmith events this summer. The Imagine Community Garden at The Garden Church location in Buffalo is currently taking applications for community garden space for the Summer 2022 garden season. Visit: www.gardensbyicg.org/apply to apply.