Peter Thum: United Against Gun Violence

“Our mission is to stop gun violence and help save the lives of kids in America’s most violent neighborhoods,” says Peter Thum ’99 MBA. He is founder of Liberty United, which destroys illegal guns obtained by law enforcement through evidence collection or gun buyback programs. “We melt them down and transform them into jewelry, which we sell. We then use the profits and donations to fund programs in the same places where the guns came from.” These programs serve 1,800 children. In Cook County the money from Liberty United goes to Children’s Home + Aid, which provides programs for at-risk youth in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Earlier in his career, Thum created the bottled water brand Ethos Water, which has donated more than $12 million to clean water projects around the globe. During a visit to one of those water projects in Africa in 2008, Thum met boys and young men armed with assault rifles. That’s when he conceived the guns-to-jewelry idea and founded Fonderie 47, which has destroyed more than 50,000 assault rifles in conflict regions in Africa. He brought the idea stateside in 2013 with the launch of Liberty United. 

Watch a Big Ten Network LiveBIG episode that highlights Thum and Liberty United.

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