Activist blacksmith teaches gun violence survivors to melt down guns and turn them into farm implements

For more than a decade Shane Claiborne has worked with gun violence survivors, teaching them to use a forge to melt down guns and an anvil to makes farm implements out of the metal.

Claiborne (coauthor of last year's
Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence
) tours America working with survivors to help them work through their trauma with fire and hammers. Last week he helped Reverend Sharon Risher, whose mother was killed in the 2015 racist Charlestown mass-shooting, to beat a gun into a plowshare.

He wants to establish a nationwide collection of storefront smithies devoted to breaking down guns.

Locally, Claiborne helped state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell smash steel a few years ago in memory of her father, her brother and her teenage son — all of whom died in gunfire. The first-term legislator, who is the first Muslim woman elected to the Pa. House, participated in a state hearing on gun violence earlier this week, working to determine causes, effects and potential solutions to gun violence.

"It was very cathartic," Johnson-Harrell told Billy Penn about the forging session. "You're just basically hammering at the gun. It becomes soft, when you hit it with a metal hammer. It was like a release."

Using fire and force, this Philly author turns guns into garden tools [Danya Henninger/Bill Penn]

(Image: Shane Claiborne)

(Thanks, Kathy Padilla!)