by Rev. Deanna Hollas,
Coordinator, Gun Violence Prevention Ministry,
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
I was recently on a flight and ended up engaged in a conversation with the person seated next to me. It wasn’t too long before they asked what type of work I did. This is always a challenging question for me when in these types of situations, as I know, when the person I am talking with learns I am a Christian pastor, all the thoughts and emotions (both good and bad, but mostly bad) the person has about Christianity and religion will now be brought forward. Then, toss in that I work in Gun Violence Prevention and things go to a whole new level of interesting.
My seatmate, Mary, was no exception as she said to me, “I need to confess. I have only told 2 other people about this. Last year – I bought a gun and I have been going to the range learning how to use it. It is like I have this secret and I am scared to tell anyone.”
I laughed as I said, “It is only because you aren’t from Texas, like me, where the gun lobby was successful in normalizing gun ownership that you feel like you have to keep it a secret.”
Mary is the target customer of the gun industry, which is looking to expand gun ownership beyond the saturated market of white males. And it is because of the gun lobby’s efforts that we have heavily armed white men militia groups in the United States that Mary is afraid of, and that fear led her to purchase a gun to protect herself and her friends from these men. That is the thing about gun violence, the more there is, the more people are afraid and buy guns. The more guns people buy, the more gun violence we have. It is a vicious and violent cycle.
Mary went on to share about her experience with the gun. She said at first she was afraid when she went to the range, but the more she shot it, the more comfortable she became. She was also surprised by how much she began to like the sense of power the gun gave her. But the more she became familiar and comfortable with the gun and its power, the more she realized that using a gun was furthering violence and everything she did in the rest of her life was trying to end violence. She said, “I think I should sell my gun.”
I then told her about Guns to Gardens and how chopping up her gun and turning it into a garden tool was the only way she could be assured that her gun would not be used to further violence and harm in the
Because of the Guns to Gardens national network, I was able to put her in contact with someone who lives near her that could chop up her gun for her.
We have had 142 people representing 73 congregations, 8 denominations, and 7 organizations attend PPF’s Guns to Gardens action circles where we share best practices on how to purchase a chop saw and dismantle a gun while adding liturgy that reminds us that turning weapons into plowshares is kingdom building work.
We want you to join us in this work by signing up on PPF’s website for the Guns to Gardens Action Circle that starts on Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 12:30 pm ET and runs for 5 weeks (March 2 – 30).
Together we can end gun violence.