John Evans is a retired Methodist minister, and like most of us, he watched the events of the Sandy Hook school shootings in horror. However, unlike most of us, he got an idea, and soon the local Faith Coalition on Gun Violence was born.
And so this Saturday, at the Washington Street United Methodist Church, John Evans will accept your unloaded guns, no questions asked, and in return he’ll give you a Peace Lily. And, to further make his point, Evans wants the donated guns to be melted down and transformed into a piece of public art.
Evans, right, who still works as a pastoral counselor, hopes that his Peace Lilies for Guns will help combat gun violence peacefully through education, training and local community activism:
“As a coalition, we want to maintain conversations so people who are gun enthusiasts can come offer a point of view.”
Evans hopes that an open conversation between gun owners and gun control advocates will lead to serious discussions of violence prevention. Again, like many of us, he is bothered by an ineffectual Congress, both in Washington and South Carolina, that seems unable, or unwilling to take on the idea of gun control, but remembering all those who lost their lives to senseless gun violence, especially the children of Sandy Hook, keeps him going forward:
“Seeing the pictures of 6-year-olds touched something deeply in me. To think their lives ended, and they didn’t have a chance to even graduate high school.”
Evans has encountered some difficulty in getting his project going; a lot of local churches refused to get involved because they want to stay out of a political issues; I guess the loss of innocent life, though, is not an issue for them.
The Peace Lilies for Guns giveback will be held in the parking lot of the church, where Evans and some other coalition members are parishioners. People can bring any guns they no longer want, Evans said, and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department will destroy them; the department will save some pieces because Evans wants to work with local artists to create an abstract and metaphorical sculpture that John Evans hopes will be displayed in a public area, such as the Five Points neighborhood of Columbia, and will include the names of gun-violence victims.
“I like the idea of using something violent to talk about peace.”
I like the idea, too, and certainly hope they get a decent turnout, especially here in South Carolina, and I hope that, one day, there is a sculpture in Five Points to remind us, every day, that we need gun control — not gun confiscation — in this country.