“Disarming Hearts, Forging Peace” is the motto of RAWtools, and who can argue with that, especially at this holiday season? Taking Judeo-Christian scripture literally, this organization is committed to transforming people-killing weapons into implements of peace. Send RAWtools a gun and it will re-forge it into gardening tools.
This is a mission that resonates with me. I have been a gun-owner since age seven, when my grandfather, a westerner whose heritage revolved around hunting and fishing, gave me a single-shot .22 rifle to teach me marksmanship. He subsequently gave me a number of other guns as I graduated to actually hunting with him.
For my grandfather, there was no romance to gun ownership. Guns were just tools, he told me, and dangerous ones. If, he said, he ever saw me playing with a toy gun or pretending to shoot at people, then he would take away my .22. My grandfather was also, as a hunter, an advocate of gun control. It was hunters, after all, who promoted legislation to limit the permissible size and caliber of guns used to hunt waterfowl, and who joined together in the early years of the twentieth century to limit the size of shotgun magazines and protect duck and goose populations. My grandfather believed that a hunter should be able to bring down his quarry with a single, well-placed shot.
I have never owned a handgun or any other weapon designed to kill people. Accordingly, I have been increasingly dismayed by the way in which the National Rifle Association has infiltrated hunting. I quit a hunting club to which I belonged because support for the NRA became more or less mandatory and members were bragging about pursuing deer with handguns and assault rifles. Such guns are designed for killing people and neither would be the choice of someone whose goal is to dispatch an animal efficiently and ethically. To carry them into the woods is just a way to rehearse people-killing.
I’m not ready yet to surrender the hunting guns my grandfather gave me. I still enjoy hunting, although these days it tends to be a solitary exercise, just me and my dog. But I would love to have a hoe forged from the barrel of an assault rifle. As I cultivated my garden, I’d know that I had taken one murder-machine out of circulation.
As the scripture promises: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” That strikes me as an aspiration whose time has come.