From guns to garden tools

Apr 19, 2023

Clanging metal could be heard from across the UMass Dartmouth campus as students hammered away at gun metal on April 19.

This was the sound of gun barrels becoming hand-forged garden tools.

This campus-sponsored event aims to address and raise awareness of gun violence, according to its organizers, UMass Dartmouth Episcopal Campus Ministry and the LeDuc Center for Civic Engagement.

Their goal was achieved with help from Swords to Plowshares North East who arrived on campus to transform surrendered guns into trowels and other gardening tools and heart-shaped jewelry through the ancient art of blacksmithing.

Swords to Plowshares North East works with local police to set up gun return programs, in which people voluntarily turn in guns they no longer wish to possess.

“I think the important part of our message is that we're not seeking to be antagonistic. We're offering a choice that people can make,” said Rev.Jim Curry, a co-founder of Swords to Plowshares North East.

The organization takes those guns to “destroy” and repurpose.

Curry explained to students that there is beauty and power in turning a tool used to cause death into a tool used to propagate life, especially for people who have been victimized by gun violence.

“As you beat the gun, you're part of the transformation, and their hearts are being transformed and they're getting a sense of power over this instrument of harm,” said Curry.

With each swing of the hammer against the forged gunmetal, students took out their frustrations about gun violence.

Sydney Brake, a graduate student studying psychology at UMass Dartmouth explained her mindset. Guns are “just something that I don’t think people need in their personal possession. I think it’s too dangerous, and it stands for something that’s so negative.”

Many students watched their peers help the blacksmiths hammer the gun barrels.

“I think it's awesome — I think it's great for an opportunity to just make something that's helpful out of something that’s harmful,” said Brake.

The event also had a station where rings of metal taken from gun barrels were shaped into hearts that were drilled to be used as charms for students to keep.

“​​The hearts are a symbol of changing..this part of a gun to a transformed beautiful object,” said Curry.

The garden tools that are made at this event will be donated to community gardens around Dartmouth.

To learn more about Swords to Plowshares North East go to