Memorial to the Lost

Memorial to the Lost
at Chester Eastside Ministries

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today's Vigil at Miller's Gun Store

Standing in front of Miller's was hot and sticky today.  One customer muttered (audibly) he'd like to run us over with his truck.  (We just smile).  Sometimes I wonder, what's the point.

I keep thinking of the rows of 145 t-shirts (one for each gun death, 2009-April 2014).  At first, they were just t-shirts on pvc pipe frames to me.  But to the families that visited the memorial, each one was a son, a brother, a nephew, a father.  More than 25 families of victims killed before 2009, or more recently than April asked us to include their son / brother / nephew.  People attached balloons to the frames, added flowers in front of the frames.  When we were taking down the memorial, people came up to us to ask, where would it go next?

When I arrived to help take down the Memorial (we only had a 3-week permit from the city), Sister Jean was already hard at work with another lady I hadn't seen before working beside her. It was hot and sticky. The lady was dressed for church -- her skirt kept catching and tearing on the pieces of rebar that we stick in the ground to hold up the pvc frames that hold up the t-shirts.  She was taking down the frames faster than I could disassemble and bag them.  Then, when we were done, when all the t-shirts were bagged (ready to wash), she asked, could she take home the t-shirt with her son's name on it, to wash and return.

Most of the guns used to commit crimes are illegal.  Most illegal guns come from straw sales in a few gun stores that (unlike, for example, Walmart) don't videotape their transactions, don't train their employees to spot straw sales, don't keep careful inventory.  We've tried to talk to Mr. Miller twice about the Code of Conduct Walmart follows, but he hasn't yet listened to us.  But maybe next time, or the time after that, he will.

"And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world"  (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9).  Even if we didn't save a life today, and don't next month or the month after that, it's worth a try.

Miller's is located at 1576B CHICHESTER AVE. LINWOOD, PA 19061.  Our next vigils there are Tuesday, August 12th 4-5 PM and Wednesday, August 27th, 4-5 PM.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

In Friday's New York Times: Real data on Illegal Gun Sales

by Theresa Tritch

A recent survey of gun dealers on illegal transactions yields new information on how criminals obtain guns.

Conducted by Garen J. Wintemute,  a renowned gun researcher , public health expert and professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Davis, the survey canvassed 1,601 federally licensed dealers and pawnbrokers in 43 states on how often attempts were made to acquire guns illegally and how sellers reacted to such attempts. Before the survey, there were almost no answers to those questions.

Among the findings, 67 percent of sellers had experienced at least one attempted straw purchase in the year before the survey, for an estimated 2,051 attempts, while 43 percent had experienced at least one attempted undocumented purchase.  Extrapolated to nearly 10,000 similar sellers nationwide, that works out to 33,800 attempted straw purchases a year, and 37,000 attempted undocumented purchases. Firearm theft was also common.

The respondents said they refused the sales when they detected illegal purchase attempts, but most did not subsequently alert law enforcement or other retailers.

The survey also asked the dealers and pawnbrokers for their opinion of the prevalence of other retailers’ knowing participation in illegal sales. The median estimate was 3 percent. Extrapolating to roughly 57,000 retail licensees in the United States as of mid-2012, that’s an estimated 1,719 dealers and pawnbrokers nationwide selling firearms illegally.

to read more, click here

Friday, July 11, 2014

Today on WHYY's NewsWorks: Chester Battles Epidemic Violence

This summer the city of Chester is fighting crime like it never has before.

After rates of gun violence reached "epidemic" levels earlier this year, city officials kicked off Operation City Surge in May.

The initiative puts more police on the streets and increases the number of routine stops by law enforcement, all at a time when Chester Mayor John Linder is reaching out to residents desperate for a change.

"I know we have a culture of 'no-snitch,' but there are good people in the community who don't want to stand for it and will give you cooperation and help when you need it," Linder said.

Nicole Cogdell, one of the mayor's community liaisons, says residents don't blame the government for rising crime rates. In fact, she says, they want to help.

"It's a we, it's a team, it's a community," Cogdell said.

They've developed a block captains program and convened a series of steering committees to develop specific visions for revitalizing certain areas of Chester.

Linder is also asking businesses in the city to install more security cameras and fighting one of the root causes of crime by aiming programs at one of Chester's neediest populations: the unemployed.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

From today's vigil at Miller's Gun Shop

Come, stand with us in vigil outside Miller's Sporting Goods, to help us persuade Mr. Miller to adopt a code of conduct that Walmart's already adheres to.  We can help keep illegal guns off the streets and reduce gun violence in our communities.

Heeding God's Calls' (Chester/Delco chapter) next vigils are 4 PM, Wednesday, July 23rd, and 4 PM Tuesday, August 8th.

Miller's is at 1576 Chichester Ave, Linwood, PA

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 Our next meeting is this Sunday, July 13th at 3 PM.  We'll meet at Chester Eastside Ministries to take down the Memorial to the Lost.  Chester Eastside Ministries is at 420 E 9th St.
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Then we'll move to Refuge in Christ Church, 3001 W 10th St (see below)

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