The Oakland Police Department sowed the seeds for a safer community — figuratively and literally — this past weekend during a gun buyback event that offered an unusual twist on the theme of taking unwanted weapons off the streets.

The department’s “Guns to Gardens” buyback held Saturday, June 11, at At Thy Word Ministries on International Boulevard, collected 131 surrendered firearms, the OPD said.

But rather than merely melting down weapons as is the usual practice with such events, these firearms will all be repurposed and forged into gardening tools by local blacksmith John Rogers to help beautify the city of Oakland.

Some of the lucky participants in Saturday’s buyback went home with free garden trowels forged from other surrendered firearms.

Garden trowels manufactured from the barrels of surrendered firearms are displayed at a booth during the Oakland “Guns to Gardens” gun buyback event of June 11, 2022. Weapons collected at the event will be used to produce similar tools. (Photo courtesy of OPD/Facebook)

Participants brought in pistols, shotguns, rifles and even an AK-47 and a “Tommy gun,” OPD said.

Folks who surrendered their gun received a gift card worth between $100 and $300, depending on the firearm. In all, OPD said they handed out over $10,000 in gift cards.

This was the first time in “nearly a decade” that the Oakland Police Department had hosted such an event, they said.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.