Church uses destroyed firearms as artwork to raise gun violence awareness

Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield is hosting a series of gun destruction events this summer.

Pieces of chopped up guns arranged to spell "Peace."

Pieces of chopped up guns arranged to spell "Peace."

Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield kicked off a series of gun destruction events with a live cutting of two firearms in June.

The events are an extension of the church’s partnership with Oakland County law enforcement and their gun buy-back program created in 2022. In its first year the event took in 353 guns and gave away nearly $35,000 in gift cards.

The dismantled gun parts will be used to create pieces of artwork — such as religious symbols, jewelry and key fobs. One piece displayed was a framed pieces of gun fragments arranged to spell the word “Peace.”

The church would originally log the guns collected and send them to law enforcement to later be destroyed. Any guns connected to a crime would be held as evidence.

But the church soon learned that the time between collection and actual destruction was substantially long.

“We still have guns in the Southfield Police Department locker we collected in 2022 waiting for destruction,” said Reverend Chris Yaw, Rector for St. Davids.

With this program, guns will be logged by the church and the records sent to law enforcement. Every gun collected will be destroyed on site.

”This expedites the process…it also give people the experience of seeing their weapon destroyed and having it happen right there for them,” said Yaw.

Yaw believes the event helps the community take one step closer to ending gun violence themselves.

The gun destruction event followed three mass shootings during Father’s Day weekend in Detroit, Lathrup Village, and a splash pad in Rochester Hills. In all, 20 people were shot and one person died.

In 2021, firearms became the leading cause of death for children in the nation — surpassing car accidents — according to the CDC.

Bishop Bonnie Perry blessed the chop saws before the event. She said gun violence is an issue that affects everyone, and will only be solved when the people band together.

“It is pulling together people,” Perry said. “All different sorts of people, responsible gun owners, folks who are not gun owners, folks who want to see that guns are cared for correctly, stored properly, used appropriately, and disposed of correctly and completely and utterly.”

More events will be held through November at various churches across the state. See the list below for upcoming events:

  • July 13 – St. David’s, Southfield – 16200 W 12 Mile Rd, 48076 – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Aug. 3 – Nativity, Bloomfield – 21220 W 14 Mile Rd, 48301 – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Aug. 24 – Church of the Messiah, Detroit – 231 E Grand Blvd, 48207 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Sept. 28 – All Saints, Pontiac – 71 W Pike St, 48341 – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Oct. 5 – St. Andrew’s, Waterford – 5301 Hatchery Rd, 48329 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 9 – St. Aidan’s, Ann Arbor, 1679 Broadway, 48105 – 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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  • Bre'Anna Tinsley
    Bre'Anna Tinsley is a reporter for Detroit Public Radio, 101.9 WDET. She covers city government and housing, as well as co-hosting the "Detroit Evening Report" podcast.