There are over 300 million guns in the United States. That’s nearly one firearm for every single American.
While the Second Amendment calls for the right to bear arms, this level of gun ownership and manufacturing has had serious consequences in recent years. Most notably, the onslaught of mass shootings that happen each year in America. There have been 91 such incidents since 1982 in which at least three people were killed.
Clearly it’s a growing problem that’s in need of a solution on a large scale. However, that doesn’t mean we ourselves can’t try to alleviate the problem, even if it’s on a smaller scale.
Carver Skateboards founder Neil Carver knows this sentiment well, and since 2012 the company has helped coordinate a gun buyback program with the San Diego Police Department that buys guns back (no questions asked) in exchange for a new Carver Skateboard.
“We began this effort as a response to the Sandy Hook massacre, which was a turning point in our country for such senseless mass shootings,” Carver told GrindTV. “The feelings of helplessness in witnessing that tragedy led to a desire to do something meaningful. But we recognized that we’re just a small skateboard company, and what do we have to offer such a big and hairy problem?
“We realized that we didn't have to make a huge change to policy or culture, but could simply work in our own small corner and affect whomever we could reach.”
Inspired by the results and their involvement with Longboarding for Peace, an organization that has helped create a dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth on the border by riding skateboards together, Carver decided to turn guns into skateboards.
“For many of us [at Carver], skateboarding saved us from a dysfunctional family, a rough neighborhood, or our own pent up feelings of angst,” said Carver.
Since 2012, Carver has collected an average of 1,500 weapons each year, making for a total near 7,500 rifles, handguns, semi-automatic weapons taken out of homes and off the streets. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.
While removing guns from homes and the streets and giving people a skateboard is the primary result, they also offer a more necessary item (especially during the holiday season) as well.
“Participants have the option of trading their guns for skateboards or grocery gift cards, depending on their interests and needs, to ensure there is a valuable option for everyone,” Carver says. “We’ve seen a consistent increase in people coming in to trade guns since our first event in 2012.”
While it certainly can feel like a daunting and harrowing thing for mass shootings to be common on a weekly, and even daily, basis for the U.S., a program like this one shows that little actions can still have big results.
“We’ll never know for sure if that one gun we traded in would have been used in a horrific shooting, but seeing the piles of semi-automatic rifles and barrels of handguns taken off the streets of our communities is a pretty good start,” says Carver.
“We want to transform these guns into something positive, find a way for kids to be a part of a creative community and teach them about another way of life,” Carver continues. “We don’t expect to change America’s relationship to guns, but if we save just one life by removing an unwanted, unsecured firearm from a home, our efforts are worth it.”
The Annual Gun Buyback hosted by Carver Skateboards in association with Longboarding for Peace and the San Diego Police Department is on Dec. 16, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at 6020 Akins Ave, San Diego, CA.
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