Beating Guns tour makes a stop in town

Family members of gun violence participated in the creating of the garden tool.

Beating Guns tour makes a stop in town
March 21
03:10 2019

Gun violence affects many people beyond those involved in the in the actual shooting. Family, victims, community activists and others gathered at Great Commission Community Church on March 12 to address the gun violence present in the city.

The Beating Guns tour was created by Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin. The two have also written a book by the same name. The event featured music, art, and stories of people impacted by gun violence. 

The highlight of the evening was when Martin fired up the blacksmith forge and turned a gun into a garden tool.  Family members of gun violence could pound the scalding hot metal and participate in the shaping of the tool.

“Our first event just clicked and we thought this was an element we could really offer people to unload some of that grief by pounding on a gun barrel,” said Martin. “It’s a real visceral way to handle the trauma they have been through and there is a big spiritual aspect to that.”

“We started doing it because we’ve seen too many lives cut short in our neighborhood,” Claiborne added. “On almost every block of our neighborhood, we can tell you stories of who lost their lives there. We just decided we needed to do something concrete, so when people say, ‘all we can do is pray,’ they’re lying. We need to pray, because we are people of prayer, but we also need to take action too.”

The stop in Winston-Salem was one of 37 for Martin and Claiborne on the tour. Their plan is to hit a different city every night, sometimes two cities in a day.

They have received phenomenal feedback from the victims’ families from each city thus far on the tour. “There are always some really heartfelt stories from the ground and that’s what we really want,” Claiborne said. “We go to a lot of marches and I believe in them, but I also think for a lot of people we have to touch them in their heart.”

For Claiborne and Martin, one of the best aspects of the tour is traveling to the different cities to see and hear the impacts of family members. They said they feel the emotion from the stories and feed off that.

“We feel the same emotions that everyone else does,” Martin said. “It’s so different that when people bring their stories out, it encourages us and gives us that fire in our bones. This is a unique way to approach this issue and gives people the opportunity to plug in from so many places.”

“For us, this is nothing new that we have thought of, it’s hundreds of years old,” Claiborne said. “This vision in the scripture also inspired the early Christians that said, ‘this is who we were meant to be,’ is people that turn a world that’s infatuated with death and violence into folks that love the Prince of Peace. Jesus turned a horrific symbol of torture, humiliation and terror, the cross, into a conduit of God’s love and we are doing the same thing.”

The two men have been working together for six years and plan to continue bringing their message to the masses.  Their book allows people to feel the essence of their events even though they are not physically there. For more information on Beating Guns events and merchandise, please visit

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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