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This year’s Bend ‘Guns to Gardens’ firearm safe surrender event brings in 45 guns, which are made into garden tools

(Update: Adding video, comments from a volunteer)

'Swords into plowshares': last year's event saw over 70 firearms dismantled

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregonians turned in dozens of unwanted guns on Saturday, to be turned into garden tools. The second annual Guns to Gardens firearm safe surrender event took place at Antioch Church in Bend. This year, a total of 45 guns were collected.

Antioch Church, in partnership with First Presbyterian Church, held the second annual event to remove unwanted firearms from the community, allow for safe disposal of unwanted firearms, reduce the number of gun deaths and injuries in the community, and “turn swords into plowshares.”

“Anyone may bring unwanted and unloaded guns to be dismantled and later made into garden tools,” said Pastor Amy Kasari. “As we seek to follow the way of Jesus, we feel compelled to find a tangible way to spread peace amidst rising violence.

"While mass shootings are often what makes the news, far more gun violence occurs in the form of everday accidents and suicides. Over 43,000 Americans die every year from gun violence. Approximately 60% of the gun deaths are from suicide, followed by homicide, family violence, and accidents.

"A difficult moment can turn into a tragedy simply because a gun is nearby. If you feel that it is no longer safe or desirable for you to have a gun in your home, this is a responsible way to dispose of your unwanted guns.”

The event is part of the “Guns to Gardens” movement, which works to decrease gun violence by reducing the number of guns in homes and communities. Unwanted guns are dismantled and the leftover parts are forged into garden tools.

Saw operator Dave Creel said the event involves "dismantling those weapons, and then using the leftover pieces to transform into things like garden tools symbolically as a gesture to show how things are traditionally used to hurt and kill people that can be transformed into instruments that actually cultivate life and are used for peace."

Last year’s event in Bend saw over 70 firearms dismantled in just two hours. One grateful participant donated five firearms that she inherited from her late husband, which she brought to the event because she did not know how to properly use or store them. 

Trained volunteers discovered that all five of these weapons were unknowingly still loaded. By safely disarming and then dismantling the firearms, volunteers successfully prevented a tragic accident from occurring in this woman’s home or in this community.

With an estimated 400 million guns in American homes, many of these guns are no longer wanted for a range of reasons: the gun owner may have children or grandchildren in the home; a hunter or other gun owner may have reached an age where they no longer feel they can safely handle weapons; a gun may have been returned to family by the police after it was used in a suicide or unintentional shooting; there may be conflict in a family; or there may be a family member with a serious mental illness or health condition.

For whatever reason, Guns to Gardens provides a way to dispose of unwanted guns without returning them to the gun marketplace where they could be used for future harm.

Participants were advised that unloaded guns should be placed in the trunk, rear, or back seat of a vehicle.  Skilled personnel removed the firearms from vehicles and transfered them to a chop saw station. Trained volunteers used power tools to make three cuts to the gun, following guidelines from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The event is not a traditional gun “buy-back,” as the gun owner waits throughout this process and there is no transfer of firearm ownership.

Once the gun is dismantled, it is no longer legally a gun. The owner can donate the leftover parts to be forged into garden tools. 

While the Safe Surrender event is not a traditional gun “buy-back,” the church distributed gift cards to gun owners as a way to thank them for disposing of unwanted guns. Guns had to be unloaded and ammunition was not accepted.

Thank you gift cards were provided for working guns while supplies last.

$100 for a shotgun, long gun, or hunting rifle, 

$200 for a revolver or handgun, 

$300 for an assault rifle.

For more information, or to contribute a tax-deductible gift for the project, contact

About Guns to Gardens

Guns to Gardens is a new movement in the United States to provide Americans with a practical way to responsibly dispose of unwanted guns. Sometimes these are inherited guns. Sometimes they are guns that a family feels are unsafe to have in a home, for instance, with children or teens, with senior citizens, or with anyone who suffers from mental illness.

The project is modeled on the nonprofit organization RAWtools, which for over 10 years has created a national network of blacksmiths who forge dismantled gun parts into garden tools and art projects. For more information, see or

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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