Memorial to the Lost

Memorial to the Lost
at Chester Eastside Ministries

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pictures from Chester's Refuge in Christ Church Block Party

Yesterday was gorgeous -- bright sun and not too much humidity.  There was Christian Rap, and BBQ chicken, burgers and games and a moon bounce,  Sister Jean was there with flyers from Ana's Place, and Sheila Bell and I were there with HGC literature--it was a good chance to reach out to the wider community.  A great time was had by all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In today's Phila Inquirer - Editorial on the Gun Range

When the federal government shut down the notorious gun shop owned by James G. Colosimo in 2009, neighbors and anti-gun-violence advocates celebrated the closing of a public nuisance that for years was frequented by "straw buyers" who purchased weapons for felons who couldn't legally own a firearm.

However, a new version of the gun shop on Spring Garden Street may reopen unless residents in the West Poplar neighborhood can persuade the city Zoning Board of Adjustment to deny that use of the property. The target range behind Colosimo's was acquired by new owners who also want to sell weapons at their establishment, called the Gun Range.

The Gun Range's operators contend that there is little difference between a shooting range and a gun store. But Bryan Miller of the anti-gun-violence group Heeding God's Call sees it differently. Most important, the operators of a gun range can control how weapons are used there. That's not the case once a gun leaves the premises. Limiting where guns are legally sold could reduce the number that end up being used to commit crimes.

In fact, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence documented more than 400 crimes that it says were committed with guns purchased at Colosimo's over a seven-year period in the 2000s, including at least 10 homicides.

The federal firearms license of Colosimo's Inc. was revoked in 2009 for failing to maintain proper firearms records and making false statements. The U.S. Attorney's Office said the gun shop had sold 10 guns to three straw buyers. As part of a plea agreement, Colosimo agreed to cooperate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It would be a shame to see guns again being sold at a location with such a sordid past. The city zoning code does allow gun shops in industrial areas that are at least 500 feet from homes, religious institutions, and schools. But this increasingly residential community with a growing commercial strip is zoned commercial, and the Zoning Board should maintain that designation.

To read more, click here

Sunday, August 16, 2015

the Memorial to the Lost at Christ Church in Media

Saturday morning was sunny, breezy and not too hot.  Christ Church, Media had a great turnout to build the Memorial to the Lost.  It was such a lovely congregation -- the Memorial was up in a little over an hour, so I was in a good mood when I drove down to visit with a Chapter member in Chester.

She lives in a dangerous part of town. It used to be that people felt safe sitting outside their front doors during the daytime -- now, not so much.  She used to be able to walk confidently to the little corner store -- now she only goes at certain times of the morning.  She doesn't sit by her back window, for fear of being hurt by shots coming through.  People can't hold a picnic, for fear of shooting.

A 17 year old shot a 10 year old in the stomach with a Glock at Memorial Park near the swimming pool a couple of weeks ago.  What's a 17 year old doing carrying a Glock so near where children were playing on a hot summer day?  Another 17 year old was killed at the corner of 9th and Lincoln last week.  That was the 13th in Chester this year.  Shootings  are so common, most don't get reported in the paper.  

The police are slow to respond to calls for help, and are seldom able to solve cases.  (Note:  Chester had the highest homicide rate of any PA city last year -- 88 / 100,000).  The police are always looking for drugs, but don't seem to care much about keeping neighborhoods safe.

Chester's young men all went to school together; all of them know each others' parents.  It used to be that when two young men were fighting, the parents could visit each other and calm things down.  No longer.  Why are they killing each other?  The Klu Klux Klan doesn't need to do anything in Chester; the young men will all kill each other, there won't be a single one left.

A young, white man came by her door at dusk the other night, asking did she want to subscribe to cable.  She said the neighborhood was dangerous-- he was running a big risk, walking from door to door.  He said he had a quota to meet or he'd lose his job.  She asked, was his job worth risking his life?

I didn't know what to say.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Press Coverage of the Gun Range Demonstration and Zoning Board Hearing.


Philadelphia’s Zoning Board of Adjustment didn’t make a decision today over whether a gun shop can open in a shooting range close to Spring Garden Street, but the debate previewed what sorts of legal posturing is to come.

A central question raised during the three-hour hearing was whether Yuri Zalzman, who has operated the Gun Range the past three years, must apply for a variance in order to sell firearms from his shooting range.

That’s what most thought the meeting was about – reasonably so, given that it was billed as a variance hearing. But shortly into deliberations, Zalzman’s attorney, Dawn Tancredi, waived her right to seek a variance.

Some in attendance looked noticeably befuddled by Tancredi’s statement. It prompted the Board members and attorneys from both sides to meet in a corner of the room for a quick huddle to hash out how the hearing was going to move forward.

Then lots of technical arguing ensued.

The gist of Tancredi’s argument: The shooting range already has the right to retail guns, and the rebuttal offered by city officials: That’s not true. Selling guns entails applying for and successfully winning a new variance.

After the hearing Bryan Miller with Heeding God’s Call To End Gun Violence said he’s now more hopeful than ever that the gun shop will never open.

To read more, click here

In today's Phila Inquirer

In the three years since Yuri Zalzman purchased an old shooting range in the reviving North Philadelphia neighborhood of West Poplar, he has hosted gun enthusiasts, sold ammunition to customers, and rented guns to practicing marksmen. Now, he thinks he should be allowed to sell firearms, too.

Philadelphia's Zoning Board is not so sure.

After nearly three hours of oral arguments Wednesday, the board asked attorneys to submit briefs outlining their positions.

That means that West Poplar residents and antiviolence groups - about 50 people attended Wednesday's hearing - will have to wait at least another month to learn whether Zalzman can open a gun shop in his North Percy Street building.

In Philadelphia, gun shops are normally allowed only in industrial zones, and only if situated more than 500 feet from a church, school, or residence.


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The owner of a gun range in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia is seeking the city’s permission to be re-zoned so it can sell firearms, but residents and community groups want to stop him.

Located in the 500 Block of North Percy, the Gun Range is located across the street from a Buddhist Temple, a few hundred feet from St. Paul’s Baptist Church. And it’s near numerous residential properties. To top it off, it’s located just around the corner from Colosimo’s, a gun shop shuttered six years ago after feds linked it to illegal straw purchases.

“Just like the gun shop that was there before, it would devastate the community,” says Brian Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call.

He organized the dozens of residents and civic groups that attended a zoning board meeting on Wednesday. Their goal — block range owner Yuri Zalzman’s application to be zoned a “gun shop.

to read more, click here


In Metro US

Lawyers for the owner of a Philadelphia gun range said a quirk in the city's zoning code should allow them to sell guns — an argument that has drawn the ire of gun control groups that packed a zoning hearing Wednesday over the range's plans.

"There's a lot of emotion involved," said Christopher Garber, a firearms instructor who came out in support of the gun store. "You have people who have seen children killed. But guns don't kill people. Personal responsibility has to come into play."

The seemingly obscure debate comes at a time when gun rights groups and cities across the state are locked in a battle over the degree to which municipalities can regulate guns, and gun control groups see a potential impact across the state.

"This is an attempt to undo zoning laws," said Shira Goodman, of CeaseFire PA.

In July, a state court overturned a law that would have forced cities and towns to pay the legal fees of gun rights advocates who sued to overturn gun laws such as those that require firearms owners to report lost or stolen weapons. That decision is under appeal.

The Gun Range, a gun range near 11th and Spring Garden streets, applied through the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections to begin selling firearms. That application was denied, setting the stage for Wednesday's hearing.

Lawyers for the business argued that the city's zoning code doesn't actually contain a definition of a firing range. But the code defines a gun shop as any place that sells or lends firearms, or sells ammunition. 
to read more, click here