One should not speak ill of the dead. Luckily, I’m writing. And if someone who knew Mr. Papendick wants to criticize TTAG for his inclusion in this series—as friends and family of named individual have before—I’l tell them the same thing I’ve told the others: we must learn from the mistakes made by those less fortunate than ourselves. When firearms-related mistakes lead to tragedy, it’s even more important for us to take account of what went wrong so that we can avoid a similar fate. In this case, the lesson is simple enough: don’t show off your guns . . .

David Jeffery told homicide detectives that he went to Karl Papendick’s North Philadelphia home, in an old warehouse near the Kensington and Fishtown borders, to unload some wood the day after Christmas 2008.

As Papendick, 37, showed him some guns he legally owned and collected, Jeffery said he pulled the slide of a semiautomatic back and forth and the gun went off, hitting a kneeling Papendick in the back of the head as the victim was retrieving more guns from a safe.

Jeffery told police he then “took another Xanax, I chugged a beer, then I left.”

He said he took two guns, including the weapon that killed Papendick, and threw them into a sewer, but he told detectives he didn’t mean to kill him.

According to philly.com, PA prosecutors reckon Jeffrey killed Papendick for his guns. And yet there’s no mention of any attempt to fence said firearms. I guess they’ll argue that Jeffrey freaked after executing Papendick.

Papendick, a painter, sculptor and photographer, graduated in 1996 from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he majored in painting. He made his living repairing computers from his home, on Howard Street near Palmer. Jeffery told homicide detectives he met Papendick in a park, where their dogs played.

So not only did Papendick reveal the fact that he collected guns to a relative stranger, he invited his fellow dog walker (a substance abuser) to his house. Alone. Obviously, it was a fatal mistake. It was also highly irresponsible.

Gun owners have a responsibility to keep their guns out of the hands of criminals. To do that, you have to start with an understanding that criminals want your guns. The vast majority of guns used by criminals are stolen from private owners. So d’uh. You’re a target.

To prevent your guns from falling into the wrong hands, you have to lock ’em up. As Mr. Papendick did. But you also have to shut up. Which Mr. Papendick didn’t.

I know: I’m one to talk. I run a website devoted to guns. It’s a risk I take to do the work I do; just like the police, only nowhere near as beneficial to society. In my defense, I’ve raised my security consciousness to take account of that danger. Loose lips sink ships, but some ships are more vulnerable than others. If you know what I mean.

There’s another, equally important security layer: access. In other words, you need to decide who gets to see the things. To prevent gun crime, that should be as small a circle as possible. From a safety and security point of view, the less people who handle your guns, the better.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure it’s possible to be both a firearms enthusiast and a social gadfly. But there has to be a line between the two. A distinction between people you know and people you trust enough to view your guns. And another distinction between people who can look at your firearms and people you trust enough to handle one (never mind a loaded gun).

Personally, I don’t trust anyone around firearms. Never have. Never will. I don’t see the point. But a more gregarious gun owner (i.e. anyone else) should at least be aware that handing a gun to anyone involves a large amount of risk. Both at that moment and later, when your best bud’s smoking a bone with their dope dealer.

As for Mr. Papendick, his death is a great loss. I was aware of his Maine photographs before Jeffrey took his life. Now, in retrospect, I sense Papendick’s psychological isolation. Don’t let yours be your undoing.

16 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Karl Papendick

  1. So sad that someone who labels themselves as a journalist will use one article which was 15 sentences long to form their opinion on my good friend who was murdered. Why don't you start a website about responsible journalism and get more than one article before you trash someone who was murdered? How about attempting to interview someone familiar with the case or who knew about how weapons were handled and respected by the deceased? Perhaps then you would have found that the article cited just recounted the bullshit testimony of the person who murdered and will now spend his life in prison. I appreciate your attempt to discuss gun safety and to encourage responsible firearm ownership. But at the end of the day, when you attempt to speak with authority on a subject or person you know nothing about, you simply look like an idiot.

  2. you good friend was a drug dealer….he was selling drugs to jeffery…he had all these guns and a video surveilance system and a pile of cash…Jeffrey is a scumbag who is now away for life, but either way lets be honest here

    • Blah, blah, blah.

      I knew Karl very very well. He certainly was no drug dealer. He was sweetheart of a guy who didn’t deserve this fate.

      You, on the other hand, are a complete piece of garbage for talking about him like that. How dare you defame his character like that. Coward.

      If you had the guts to say that to my face, I’d make you wish you were Jeffery.

  3. If Karl was a drug dealer then I’ll eat my hat. I had the pleasure of being taught by him in the field of computers and got to know him very well. He had guns because, like many Americans, he enjoyed owning firearms. His surveillance system was a SECURITY system, set up by himself because he lived in a bad part of Philadelphia. He even warned me that if I ever stopped by his house to leave nothing in my car that could be stolen. And as for the money (for which I can find no mention of in all the reports of his homicide), it could have been from any source. I myself frequently leave over $100 sitting in a basket in my bedroom in loose bills. I do it because I know I live in a safe neighborhood and the likelihood of it being stolen is zero.

    [NOTE: Part of this comment was deleted. TTAG’s posting policy: no flaming the website, its authors or fellow commentators. I will gladly communicate with anyone re: TTAG’s editorial stance or style in private at guntruth@me.com]

  4. eat your hat then..dave was one of my my best friends who was and is a good person who got mixed up in a bad crowd… he had a public defender and a girlfriend who claimed to be raped by karl .then told the police dave admitted the shooting and she fled the country the next day! im sure karl was a great person,as is dave! only two people know the truth and ones dead and the others in prison for life! dave wasnt at the house baking cookies and a guy with sixx guns ,a safe full of cash, and a high tech security system is sellin just computers and art! both sides suffered losses here and both people involved were both up to nothing good ,one just lived to think about it for the rest of his life….hopefully this becomes a lesson that drugs and guns dont mix, and prevents future tragedies!

    • whatever karl was into he wasnt a “drug dealer” (or a rapist!). he was an upper class international highly educated well traveled white liberal artisan from Mt Airy. i only just heard about this, a few years now after the fact. in fact it seems unlikely that the killer deliberately murdered him, based on the circumstances as reported. it sounds like a terrible accident.

  5. You’re forming an opinion about a man you did not know! Karl was NOT a drug dealer. I lived across the street for him, and for a time cleaned his loft/warehouse. I spent a great deal of time there and never EVER seen any drug dealing of any kind. The cameras were for security, as he was highly paranoid about getting robbed. And, yes, he had guns…he loved guns. There are many free Americans that do…owning a gun (or guns) does not make you a drug dealer. And as far as Karl be a rapist! That’s even more outrageous than the drug dealing claims. I have been stark naked in front of this man (posing for artful photographs) and he was nothing but a gentleman…as he always was!
    Whether dave killed my friend by accident or on purpose, he is fully responsible for his murder. He is an admitted drug abuser, and it was his abuse that lead to the death of one of the greatest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

    • I’m a friend to Karl and Dave’s Girlfriend, and Karl DID NOT rape anybody! Whoever is spreading that nasty rumor about Karl is downright disgusting. They were good friends who met up at the park everyday to walk their dogs. She moved out of Philly in January and didn’t know Dave had done any of this until she talked to her friends in Philly. She confronted Dave about it and got a different version of the story than the one he gave police, but she called the Philly police anyways but they wouldn’t/couldn’t do anything about it because he’s out of their jurisdiction. She left him because he has a gun and was drinking and threatening her everyday about killing her and himself. Scumbag like that put my friend through hell, so I’m glad that he’s out of her life and in jail! RIP KARL.

  6. the internet is tragedy for the new age… i knew karl since age 8, we hung out a lot as teenagers, lost touch since. looked for him on facebook on a whim, couldnt find him. googled his name, only to discover this atrocity. its hard to imagine someone, when we are young, will be cut off at some not so distant point. makes me wish to live better.

    the bell tolls for all. R I P Karl

  7. I am also a former IT student and relatively good friend of Karl’s. I want to comment that Karl’s video system was in fact put in as a security system. I remember him telling me about the incident that led to him putting the system in. His vehicle got broken into and he subsequently installed the system. I never say never about what other may or may not do. At the same time, if Karl was a drug dealer, I would be surprised enough to drop dead from a heart attack.

    We Miss You Karl

  8. I just found out this sad news too. I used to live across the street from Karl when he was a tiny kid. I remember his mother strapping him to the little seat behind her’s on her bicycle. She would give him long rides around the neighborhood while his sisters played in front of the house. I remember their whole family leaving for florida vacations driving their robin’s egg blue Beatle Bug car with their sand box on the roof they used as a luggage carrier.
    His mother was quite an artist and I have vague memories of her very large paintings that hung in the house. My father has art work from her sister today. I was glad to learn that Karl had art in his life since he lost his mother at such a young age. I loved playing with his sisters though i’ve totally lost touch over many many years now. I will always remember them as they were once my neighbors and friends.
    I did go back to the old neighborhood years ago and saw Karl riding his bike. I totally recognized him yet he did not me…but he was the youngest. RIP Karl.

  9. I knew Dave Jeffery. I was shocked to know he did it and not from the downward spiral he was in from his habit. He met Karl at a dog park with his dog and they were friends. Karl sold him drugs. He considered Dave a friend. While Karl was getting the drugs Dave found the hidden gun and shot him. This is the story I was told. Why do you think the cameras where everywhere and by do you think Dave threw the guns in the sewer. With that said, no deserves what happened to Karl.

  10. And as for the girlfriend that is better off without him, please, the same could be said for her. She knew all along. She fled to Florida with him. He even stayed with her relatives after they broke up. She was no more a victim than he is. He was not the person he became until he lived with her. She had no problem with him when he lived in a luxary apartment and had a great job. He was always an emotional drinker who’s guilt obviously destroyed him. It is not as if Jefferies never sought help for his addictions. It’s a disease that consumed him and destroyed 2 lives forever scarring 2 sets of families and friends.

  11. This author is an idiot…Karl and Dave were not strangers. This scumbag murderer spent many months hanging out and doing paid carpentry work for Karl. In that time, he pretended to be Karl’s friend and acted as if he were a fellow gun collector. All the while, he wandered around the neighborhood bragging of his ‘mob’ and ‘gun’ connections. He told people that he had the hook up if they needed a ‘piece.’ Then, suddenly, Karl was executed in his own living room and many of his hidden collector pieces (many more than the 2 that this borderline retarded author claimed) had disappeared. David Jeffrey was not a kind unfortunate soul who accidentally shot a good man…he is a scumbag who should have been aborted in utero so that my dear friend could still be here making this world a better place.
    p.s. If this worthless slag of a writer actually owned guns, he would know that an accidental slide pull would not discharge a round and this murderer would know he should only point the barrel at a target he intended to shoot.

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