TOLEDO, Ohio — A book tour brought two gun-control advocates to Toledo who have been traveling across the country turning guns into gardening tools.
Authors of “Beating Guns,” pastor/blacksmith Mike Marti and writer/activist Shane Claiborne chose Toledo to be one of the 38 stops in their tour because the Glass City is no stranger to the metal transformation they have been preaching.
Pastor Joel Shenk from the Toledo Mennonite Church, which hosted the event, is part of an organization spearheaded by Martin that works in multiple communities, repurposing weapons for other lifelong tools.
"As people of faith, we feel called to speak a more hopeful message into our world based on the biblical prophets called 'beat swords into plowshares,'" Shenk said. "We put a modern-day spin on that of turning guns into garden tools."
The Toledo Police Department donated two confiscated guns to the event that were melted and forged into a shovel and pickaxe tool.
Toledo Chief of Police George Kral was at the event and said the weapons came from a meth lab in town.
(The gun) had one thing to do, and that was to kill someone that came into that house. Now, it’s into three pieces and it’s going to become a gardening tool. It’s symbolic but it’s important.
“(The gun) had one thing to do, and that was to kill someone that came into that house,” Kral said. “Now, it’s into three pieces and it’s going to become a gardening tool. It’s symbolic but it’s important.”
Kral also took the opportunity to criticize gun laws and said it is a problem that people on the "No Fly List," or diagnosed with mental-health problems can still easily buy firearms.
"I've been carrying a gun for 29 years as a police officer. This is not anti-Second Amendment. This is an access issue," he said.
Equal Justice USA worker and event-goer Tana Schiewer and her son Malcom said these events are important to help people realize how guns affect people.
“I’m not sure if there is enough going on in Toledo with anti-gun violence, criminal system justice reform, anything like that,” Tana said. “But I think it’s really important that communities get behind the idea of getting gun violence under control,”