How do you turn a rifle into a carrot?

Today, if a 20-year-old had not burst into a small-town classroom, my state of Connecticut would be a happier place.

Today, if the young man had not had an assault weapon, 20 sixth-graders and 6 educators would be at this moment celebrating the holidays with their families.

Five years later we are still awash in Sandy Hook grief. And the killings continue. My home paper The New Haven Register had front-page stories this year:

Fourteen-year-old Tyriek Keyes passed away from a fatal gunshot wound last Thursday, four days after being shot near Bassett and Newhall Streets….

Two days after Keyes’ death, a 13-year-old boy was found shot near Bassett Street…

Where find light in this darkness?

Tuesday’s front-page headline was a welcome change:

Surrendered guns turned into gardening tools in latest New Haven gun buy-back

Reporter Jessica Lerner writes that this year’s buy-back will be different. New Haven Police Officer David Hartman explains that the donated (no questions asked) firearms will be given to local metal sculptor, Gar Waterman, who will turn over the smashed pieces to the Department of Correction where volunteer inmates will forge the pieces into gardening tools under the tutelage of RAWTools, a nonprofit Colorado group that forges hand tools from weapons.

Steven Yanovsky, from the Newtown Foundation, says,

“It allows us to take this method of destruction, this murder machine, and turn it into something which is the polar opposite… you’re taking a weapon of death and turning it into the complete opposite, which is life. So you go from a rifle or a handgun to carrots.”

Yanovsky continues, “Yes, this is a baby step, but this is where it starts, and hopefully, it will spread throughout the country.”

Are we finally getting the words of Isaiah —

“…and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

“How many deaths will it take till we know…?” Thanks to Bob Dylan for keeping the question alive.

To the parents of those children who today would be sixth-graders, heartfelt gratitude.

May your words inspire us to action.

An Oasis in the Overwhelm Sanity Tip: set aside a few minutes today to ponder —

  1. What can I do to turn an aggressive attitude I have towards someone or something into a carrot?
  2. What one action will I take to let policy-makers know that I count on them to enact and enforce common-sense gun laws?

Like the Sandy Hook parents, let’s turn anger into action, grief into love whenever and wherever we can.