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Video by Rocky Mountain PBS

In response to U.S. gun violence, this blacksmith melts guns into garden tools

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — In the aftermath of national tragedy, artists often look to bring messages of peace to their communities.

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, one organization transforms donated guns into workable garden tools in a powerful way.

RAWtools founder Mike Martin accepts weapons donations, stripping them of metal. Then, using a process of smelting and metalwork, he turns these former firearms into handheld garden tools.

RAWTools repurposes donated weapons into garden tools. Photo courtesy of RAWtools/Coe Burchfield

RAWtools visits cities nationwide with their message of peace, engaging gun violence survivors in a healing and restorative process around the anvil.

Mike Martin of RAWtools helps Cherie Ryans forge a new tool from a donated gun. Ryans lost her son to gun violence in Philadelphia, where the picture is taken. Photo courtesy of RAWtools/Dan Brearly

During these visits, survivors and those who have lost loved ones to gun violence gather in community centers, churches, and parking lots to share their stories. Outside, they approach the hot iron, hammer in hand, and — with each strike — release years of pain and grief. As a crowd stands by in witness, enveloping the scene with a community's strength and support, the hammer is passed, and a new tool is forged.

A newly forged garden tool. Photo courtesy of RAWtools/Coe Burchfield

Martin said the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School motivated him to put his faith into practice, a way to address gun violence through direct means.

This report originally appeared on Rocky Mountain PBS' "Arts District."

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