The Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church is hosting a gun surrender event on June 11 at the Shepherdstown Fire Department (details below). This event is part of the Guns to Gardens program that enables people to safely surrender unwanted firearms and have them transformed into garden tools or art. The event in Shepherdstown is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s national Guns to Gardens Day observance, in which Presbyterian churches all around the country will be participating. It will be the first ever Guns to Gardens event in West Virginia.
The goal of Guns to Gardens is “to end gun violence, promote safe gun storage, and maintain safe neighborhoods” according to its website. The organizers stress that the Guns to Gardens program is not “anti-gun” — it does not challenge anyone’s right or choice to legally own firearms. Rather, it’s a faith-driven response to the sharply-increasing incidence of gun-related deaths and injuries in this country, particularly among children. “Guns to Gardens gives a way for gun owners who, for their own personal reasons, wish to surrender a gun and to give it a new, life-affirming purpose,” said Pastor Gusti Newquist of Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. “It is an honor to participate in an effort where Scripture — “And they shall turn their swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4) — is brought to life in our modern world.”
Unlike traditional gun buy-back events, where gun owners are paid market value for their guns, Guns to Gardens events typically offer gift cards as an expression of thanks to the gun donors. “We don’t compete with the open market, so these events don’t draw people seeking top dollar for their guns,” says Deanna Hollas, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s first ordained minister of gun violence prevention. “Guns to Gardens draws people who are inspired by its underlying spirit of transformation.”
Jay Hurley, owner of O’Hurley’s General Store in Shepherdstown, will be one of the volunteers dismantling guns at the event. Hurley, a lifelong gun enthusiast and collector, commented on his participation in Guns to Gardens: “I honor the importance of firearms in our country’s history. But I also recognize the growing need to get guns off our streets and, for some, out of our homes. So, while I chop up guns on June 11, you may see tears falling down my cheeks. Still, I’ll be happy to do it.”
All donated guns will be dismantled on site during the event (see details below). After the event, the dismantled gun materials will go to local blacksmiths, who will craft the metal into garden tools, to be sold locally.
Guns to Gardens Event Details
June 11 (Sunday), 1 pm to 4 pm
Shepherdstown Fire Department, 8052 Martinsburg Pike, Shepherdstown
Anyone with an unwanted firearm may bring it to the event (please do not drop off guns outside of the event hours). An individual can drop off as many firearms as they like.
The firearms should be in working order, unloaded, and stowed in the trunk of the donor’s car (or in the rear of SUVs and trucks). While the donors remain in their vehicles, trained volunteers will remove the firearms, check them, record the serial numbers, and transfer them to a dismantling station. The donors will proceed to that station to observe their guns being cut into parts (following ATF guidelines) by trained volunteers. Because the owners watch their guns’ dismantlement, there is no transfer of ownership. At the end of the process, donors will receive a gift card to a local grocery store: $50 for handguns, $100 for shotguns or rifles, and $200 for semi-automatic weapons.
For security and privacy reasons, only gun donors, press, and the volunteer staff will be allowed on the Fire Department premises during the event. Press must check in with the event organizer. Donors’ privacy must be maintained. No photos will be permitted. Learn more about the Guns to Gardens project at GunsToGardens.org.By Staff Contributor