Saturday, December 19, 2015

What To Do With Melted-Down And Destroyed Guns

Every year, Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation (COEF) sponsors gun turn-in events in Oregon.  In return for gift certificates for area supermarkets, people who have unwanted guns turn them in to the local police at the event, able to rid their homes of dangerous lethal weapons and walk away with the ability to purchase food and materials to help them live.  It is an event mirrored in more and more cities across the nation as people realize the dangers of guns in the home.  The guns are handed directly to police.

Since the inception of our gun turn-in events in 1994, COEF has eliminated nearly 8500 firearms off the streets and out of the homes of our state!

Guns being melted down into rebar (source)
Why would people turn in guns?  Some of the guns are old and corroded, dangerous to operate.  Some are from homes that have recently given birth to children and the family realizes the danger of having curious small children around firearms.  Some are from widows whose husbands had been gun owners and who have no interest or ability to shoot them.  And some are from homes with suicidal or otherwise dangerous individuals.  Some of these guns are kept out of the hands of criminals, with resulting declines of gun crimes afterward.  Can any reasonable person argue against these very sensible reasons?

But naturally, the gun fetishists picket the turn-in events, unable to accept that the reasons given above are reasonable.  They harass those who come to the event, harass those of us who help with the event, and even harass the police officers.  They even try to buy the guns off of those who come to turn them in, paying cash at the gate, though, thanks to the recently-enacted Senate Bill 941, they can no longer do so unless the seller and buyer go together to a firearms dealer to perform a background check.  Here's an example video, filmed by the gun guys themselves, showing these gun extremists literally waving cash around and harassing gun violence prevention advocates at an Oregon gun turn-in.

But what really makes the gun guys' heads explode is what becomes of their fetish items after they are turned in to the police.  The guns are cut up and melted down.

The same is true, also, for guns confiscated from criminals, after they have been used as evidence, by law enforcement.

What do you do the resulting metal?

In the majority, most of these cases see the metal go into very utilitarian uses.  This year in Los Angeles, for instance, the metal from  3400 guns that had been confiscated in crimes went into making rebar for construction of freeway bridges (see image to the right).  In 22 years of this event, 180,000 guns have wound up this way!  Another event in Seattle also turned them into rebar.

Other events have the guns turned into manhole covers, such as this one in Boston.  It gives me great pleasure to think that hundreds of guns were melted down to cover sewers!

In a turn-in in Cleveland, hundreds of guns were melted down to be used in the manufacture of cars, household appliances, and other consumer goods.

Guns being melted down in Clevelant (source)
And in the spirit of beating swords into plowshares, a group in Philadelphia has been turning assault rifles into garden tools.  And a Mexican artist has been melting down 1527 guns into 1527 shovel heads to plant trees.

In Virginia beach, guns were melted down and formed into paperweights.

One city in Delaware used to melt the guns and other weapons down and make nails, but now they are used to produce electricity.

But not all of these guns have been turned into utilitarian items.  Some have been turned into artistic statements against gun violence.

Ammo and gun parts melted to form bracelets like on the right (source)
Jewelry is a popular result.  This New York artist turns assault rifles and ammo into bracelets, each one bearing the serial number of one of the guns used to make it, the proceeds from the sales of which are used to fund gun violence prevention efforts.

And these beautiful torc bracelets are also created out of illegal guns and ammo, also helping to fund gun violence prevention efforts, through Armani.

Newark, New Jersey, also had guns melted down into jewelry by a designer, who called it the "Caliber Collection."  An offshoot from that project attracted the rap singer Snoop Dogg to release his own line of melted-gun jewelry.  The city of Chicago also made jewelry.

Sculpture isn't unheard of.  In Colorado, high school students are using gun metal to form inspirational statues dedicated to shooting victims.  From an article:

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office donated surrendered guns, teaching the students how to disarm them and supervising the sawing of the guns so they no longer functioned. Sculptor Jessica Adams is guiding the students as they use the melted gun metal to create a sculpture out of 12,400 rods, one for each gun victim in 2013, with longer rods for younger victims, symbolizing the length of the lives they were not able to live.  
"Peace Angel"
Sheila Dierks, a priest at the Light of Christ Ecumenical Catholic Church who is volunteering with the project said, “By transforming these guns into art, we’re giving less power to the gun and more to the power of change we hope to see.”
In New York City, 946 confiscated guns were turned into a 5 foot tall "peace angel" statue.  Other, larger, "peace angel" statues made out of gun metal will also be placed around New York in the future, including at the 9/11 memorial.

Here are examples from around the world of sculptures made of destroyed guns.  Here are some other sculptures made of destroyed guns by an artist, and here is a Pinterest gallery of many other works of art made from destroyed guns.

Finally, in perhaps the most creative way to use destroyed guns, an artist has turned them into musical instruments of many different kinds, including xylophone, electric guitar, flute, and others.

Here is a video of the artist and his musical instruments:

Whatever the usage, whether an artistic creation or just a paperweight, any of these ends are better than having the gun intact.  The best type of gun is a destroyed gun.

UPDATE (7/27/16):  HERE is another example, where the city of Los Angeles had its 23rd "gun melt" event, this time melting down 7000 guns (nearly 10 tons!) to make rebar to reinforce roads and bridges.