The project is a collaboration among many groups, including the gun safety nonprofit the Newtown Action Alliance and the New Haven Police Department, which collects the guns from the public in exchange for retail gift cards. Volunteer metal sculptors and members of the clergy then disassembled the guns, and a Colorado-based group named RAWtools taught inmate volunteers from the Connecticut Department of Correction to forge the metal into gardening tools. The final products will be donated to New Haven community gardens and high schools with gardening programs.
In the garden of a New Haven artist’s studio, two bishops, one priest, and a sculptor destroyed 138 guns. These guns were voluntarily surrendered in a municipal buyback program sponsored by the Yale-New Haven Hospital and the New Haven Police Department in December 2017. This was the largest gun buyback New Haven has seen since it began its buyback program in 2011. The difference: these guns would be turned into gardening tools.
Hundreds of thousands of students and parents from Newtown, Conn., to Columbine, Colo., descended on Washington or participated in sister rallies across the United States on Saturday to condemn the scourge of gun violence and call on lawmakers for substantive change
Lauren Milgram was six years old when she survived the Sandy Hook massacre. She was saved when her teacher hid her and 15 other students in a tiny bathroom. Lauren and her 15-year-old brother, a fellow survivor, marched in DC on Saturday. They joined 400 people from Newtown, including many Sandy Hook survivors
The buyback provided American Express and/or Stop & Shop gift cards to those who turned in any working firearm. Those turning in a firearm received $200 in gift cards for an assault weapon, $100 for a pistol or revolver handgun, $50 for a rifle or shotgun, and $25 for a single or double-shot handgun. The New Haven police reported that 138 guns were turned in, more than in any previous buyback and precisely 100 more than were taken in by the Hartford buy-back the same day. Included in the 138 firearms were 74 handguns, 60 rifles and shotguns, and two assault weapons. Over the past five years, a total of 700 weapons have been brought in to the New Haven buy-backs.
This year the department added a twist: Working with a national group called RAW Tools and with Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven and Yale-New Haven Hospital, the department arranged to have a renowned local sculptor, Gar Waterman, oversee the destruction of the guns. Then prison inmates will refashion the metal into gardening tools for use by students in local agriculture education programs.
Beyond the usual barometers of the Christmas marketing season — this year’s Fingerling toy is a must-have for children — there is the Black Friday tally of holiday gun buyers, which this year broke all previous records.
The New Haven Police Department and the Newtown Foundation will host a sponsored gun buy-back event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the New Haven Police Academy, 710 Sherman Parkway, where residents can anonymously drop off guns, without fear of being charged with illegal possession of that specific firearm, and receive a gift card.