As activists, politicians and lawmakers discuss what should be done about gun rights, one Colorado man decided to take the future of guns in his community into his own hands.
Mike Martin builds gardening tools using relinquished guns in his Colorado Springs garage.
“We replace tools of violence with tools of life, that bring life," Martin told InsideEdition.com. “They’re not just giving up the gun […] it gives them something tangible to do as a result of giving up the gun."
His group, RAWTools, invites locals to donate their unused guns.
Martin and his group then use their blacksmith skills to break down the guns and transform them into various tools, like pickaxes and hoes.
He explained that a standard rifle can be made into two to four tools, drawing inspiration from an Old Testament concept of turning swords into plowshares.
It takes two blacksmiths about an hour to break down a gun and guns that the group can't work with are instead turned into artwork for gun violence victims as a form of therapy.
“We make the tools so that they are to be used, but I’m certain a lot of them are sitting on people's desks as talking pieces or stuff like that,” Martin said.
He began RAWTools three months after the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, and has worked with nearly 400 guns since.
“The first gun came from a retired public defender in Colorado Springs,” Martin explained. “He donated an AK-47 he had bought after 9/11 as a way of defending himself. When Sandy Hook happened, he realized it was a fantasy he was living in — those are his words. There was nothing better for him to do than destroy it.”
In the earlier years, he said only a couple dozen guns were donated to his group, but as mass shootings become more prevalent in recent years, more people have felt inspired to get rid of their weapons.
“When something like this happens, there’s a spike in personal donations,” he explained. “It happened after the Las Vegas shooting, after the Sutherland Springs shooting and Parkland."
To find out more about how you can donate your gun, visit their website.