In the wake of the most recent mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the issue of gun safety and gun violence prevention have been top of mind for many. One such person is Jessica Mindich, founder of the Caliber Collection, who has been focused on ending gun violence since 2012, when she teamed up with then-Newark mayor Cory Booker on an initiative to turn melted-down guns into jewelry. We caught up with Mindich via email after her most recent “gun shred” in Detroit to hear about Caliber Collection’s plans for the future, the March for Our Lives movement and the beauty behind the brand that’s destroying guns and turning them into jewelry full of hope.
Q: In your most recent “shred,” approximately how many guns were destroyed?
A: The most recent gun buyback we financed was in Detroit which resulted in 498 fewer illicit and unwanted guns on the streets of the No. 1 most dangerous city in America. Once the guns are processed through the Wayne County Sheriff’s office, we bring in a welder and render the guns inoperable. We destroy them so they can never destroy again. Every part of these guns from the metal to the serial numbers is then turned into various forms of art by us, the Caliber Collection and our Raise The Caliber Partners and sold to finance future gun buyback programs in America.
Buy It! Brass Cuff With Diamond Newark, $275; calibercollection.com
Q: What is it like to watch the gun shredding process happen?
A: The day of the actual gun buyback is full of hope. Before the doors open, hundreds of men, women and children of all ages are lined up carrying one to three weapons, excited to have the opportunity to make their homes and communities safer. Gun buyback programs are the only way in America to turn in an illegal weapon with amnesty. It is also often a rare opportunity for law enforcement and community members hardest hit by crime and gun violence to collaborate. The day we destroy the weapons is full of very different emotions. As a torch hits weapons that have been used for so much destruction and intimidation the negative energy coming off of them is palpable. They represent generations of anger, pain, frustration and loss. They are so dirty. The chemicals that coat them are so toxic. But, in just a few hours they are transformed to basic metal and plastic. Our work stems from the belief that beauty can come from horror. So as the smoke clears we sort them to be distributed to our partners be transformed into art. Hope returns and the cycle begins.
Buy It! Rose Gold Bangle Miami, $270; calibercollection.com
Q: What are the next cities on your agenda?
A: We are currently in conversations with several additional cities. We hope to make an official announcement soon. Currently we have Caliber Collections from Newark, Hartford, Detroit, Miami and San Francisco. We are so proud that we have been able to add value to existing public safety efforts to address gun violence in these communities.
Buy It! Steel Cuff Link Miami, $270; calibercollection.com
Buy It! D Cuff White-Gold Plated Detroit, $460; calibercollection.com
Q: Will there be anything planned around the March for Our Lives movement happening on March 24th?
A: I will absolutely be at March For Our Lives. It has been thrilling to see teens activated and having having such a powerful voice on this issue. So we wanted to give them a way to make an impact and get guns off the streets so we created a more affordable bracelet for them. Orange is the color of solidarity in the fight against gun violence in America. It may seem like a simple statement — but when we all act together, we can’t be ignored. 100% of the profits from each bracelet is donated to the Caliber Foundation to help the victims and communities devastated by illegal guns in America.
Buy It! Raise the Caliber Wear Orange Bracelet, $10; calibercollection.com