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Longmont church among community effort to curb gun violence in Boulder County with buyback program

Community United Church of Christ in Boulder event
Posted at 4:48 PM, Sep 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-19 19:26:08-04

LONGMONT, Colo. -- The United Church of Christ of Longmont is preparing for an event to help curb gun violence in Boulder County.

"We see this as an opportunity to create a safer community," the church's senior minister Sarah Verasco said.

On Saturday, Sept. 25, her church will host a gun buyback event, allowing people to turn in their unwanted guns in exchange for a gift card.

"You bring in the gun, we cut it into parts and then we turn it into something else," Verasco said.

RAWtools, a group based in Colorado Springs, will dismantle the surrendered guns and turn them into gardening tools.

Pictures from a previous event this year by Community United Church of Christ in Boulder show the final product.

Final product from Community United Church of Christ event

"We started almost nine years ago, a couple of months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting," RAWtools executive director Mike Martin said.

His group has turned nearly 1,000 guns into gardening tools around the country in the nine years since its inception.

"Depending on the gun, we can get multiple tools out of it, but to make one tool, it's about an hour, maybe a little bit more," Martin said. "It's taking something that was designed to bring death but now is made into something that creates life."

Interest in Saturday's event is already growing.

"One is a Vietnam vet and he would like to get rid of a couple of firearms, and that's part of his healing from PTSD," UCC Longmont member Dede Alspaugh said.

Earlier this year, the church gave away 137 gun safes and 55 auto-lock boxes during a safety event. Verasco hopes their efforts, along with the efforts of other churches in Boulder County, start a conversation.

"We want to support gun ownership, and we just ask that people examine their safety practices and try to use, you know, current ways of keeping weapons safer," she said.

The gun buyback portion of UCC Longmont's event begins at 10 a.m., and a demonstration by RAWtools of the guns getting turned into tools begins at 2 p.m.