Letter: Guns To Gardens event in Salt Lake City works to ensure unused guns are kept out of unsafe hands

Utah is consistently one of the top fifteen states in the nation for its suicide rates. A 2018 Harvard study commissioned by the Utah Legislature concluded that high gun ownership contributes to our higher suicide rate.

Although our Legislature has had several opportunities to enact the kind of durable safe storage laws that are effectively reducing gun suicide and other types of gun violence in other states, they have yet to do so. While we wait, the lives of friends and family are needlessly lost.

Guns To Gardens is a national movement that takes a novel approach to suicide prevention by ensuring that unwanted, unused guns are kept out of unsafe hands. During the first two weekends in June, religious communities, civic groups, and police departments nationwide will host these events. Gun owners will voluntarily bring guns they no longer want, need, or use to be dismantled according to ATF specifications.

Once the guns are disarmed, the parts will be transferred to blacksmiths working with RAWtools to forge the pieces into garden tools and other useful nonviolent items. This echoes the biblical call to peacemaking from Isaiah, “and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

Utah’s Guns To Gardens event will be Saturday, June 8, from 1-4 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City. If you have a gun, you no longer want or need or know someone who does, please use this opportunity to make sure that it’s not the cause of a tragedy for your family or someone else’s.

Nancy Farrar Halden, Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah, Holladay

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