Guns currently in possession of the Syracuse Police will now be headed for new lives – as high-end jewelry. The city announced a partnership today with a company called Liberty United, which melts down the metal from guns and turns the new alloys into bracelets, necklaces and rings. Money from selling the jewelry is directed back to gun-violence prevention programs in participating communities.
Peter Thum, the founder of the program, explains that he uses guns that are either no longer evidence in a case or sourced from gun buyback programs (and not part of any investigations at all.)
“When we get that metal, and then the police departments – either themselves or together with a recycler – destroy it, it’s important to upcycle it and then turn it into something that actually is inspirational. We make pieces that don’t really look anything like a gun, but rather to make the entire effort and the whole brand about this idea of transformation.”
Thum says that the process is cathartic in that it involves remaking something which was negative in its original form into something positive. He says the circle is complete when someone purchases jewelry from the site, so the money can actually help fight gun violence through local nonprofits.
The company’s website, libertyunited.com, hosts the tagline, “More beauty, more jobs, less gun violence.” The process creates some jobs in the melting and distribution parts of production, and can involve designers with different sensibilities and materials they select to pair with the steel, plastic, aluminum and wood parts that come from the guns.
Thum says that the city of Syracuse was very receptive when he approached administrators about his program:
The city has about 180 guns at present that could be used in the program. In a press conference with Thum, Mayor Miner promised that she and the city police will continue to support programs which attempt to decrease the level of gun violence on the streets of Syracuse.