The Truth About Philly Po-Po’s Gun Room


Yesterday’s published Eye-opening visit to city’s Gun Room reveals scope of problem. And what problem might that be? Wait. Don’t tell me. Gun control? Yup. Daily News Editor Page Editor Sandra Shea reckons there are too many guns. And Daily News Editor Page Editor Sandra Shea has the evidence to prove it: “On any given day, the room holds 7,000 to 10,000 guns – all confiscated in crimes commited [sic] in the city. The volume is shocking. In a room with this many guns – dull, ugly man-made objects that exist only to extinguish life – there’s just one thing to think about: death. No, that’s not exactly right: The volume is so overwhelming that I’m not really thinking at all.” Roger that. But wait! There’s more! Sandra really gets into it . . .

It’s my lizard brain that’s processing this sight – that ancient, preverbal part of the brain that is incapable of higher reasoning, only survival. I think it’s telling me to get out of there. There is nothing these guns are good for but death. I wonder how anyone carries a gun without it being a constant, metallic reminder of mortality.

Then again, maybe that’s the point.

Well exactly! Law-abiding American citizens exercising their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms carry a gun because they appreciate the fragility of life, and take personal responsibility for protecting it. Their own, their loves ones’ and, perhaps, other innocents’.

Legally speaking, a law-abiding citizen can only shoot someone who poses an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm. The armed self-defender can only shoot to stop the threat. Not kill. (A fortunate by-product.)

That means guns are good for deterring death and, target shooting. If you think about it (hard work but worth it) guns are kinda peaceful. If left to their own devices, firearms tend to just sit there. Which isn’t as exciting as the idea that . . .

Each gun tells a story, but here in the Gun Room, there are no good stories. Each is a story of failure, despair, desperation, death. Some of these stories are also pathetic. I see a few rifles rigged up with a sling of cheap plastic twine, the kind you’d use to tie a bakery box. A few are sawed off, or jury-rigged with crude, homemade parts.

You want to talk about ascribing malevolent intentions to inanimate objects? Ms. Shea goes there. And then goes there some more.

Gun people, especially the NRA and its many members, take pains to defend the honor of guns, imbuing them with holiness and patriotism. In their hands, guns – which they insist they buy for safety, sport or collecting – are honorable things, and by extension, they themselves are honorable. They say that guns don’t kill people. They say that there is no such thing as “illegal guns,” only the unlawful people who own them. (By the way, many of the crime guns in the Gun Room have legal owners.) [NB: author’s parenthetical aside added to the text in later editions. See: below.] They say that there are enough gun laws, that they just need to be enforced. I have never agreed with these statements, but now I feel even more strongly. They are lies.

If gun lovers really believed that guns are honorable, why aren’t they more protective of this honor? Why are they so silent when criminals and murderers and snipers and insane gunmen shoot up temples and theaters, compromising the honor of guns? Why isn’t the NRA horrified and outraged, more supportive of reasonable controls, more insistent that guns should be in the hands of only those who deserve them?

Is that a trick question? Even if it isn’t, it seems Ms. Shea forgot to ask the the guns’ keepers for a bit of background on their history. Earlier today, a reader named Jonathan Goldstein wrote to to raise an inconvenient truth.

I’M GLAD Sandra Shea visited the gun room at City Hall (Daily News, Sept. 5). Unfortunately, she wasn’t given accurate information about what she saw.

Not all of the 7,000-10,000 guns she saw were “confiscated in crimes committed in the city.” Many of those guns were seized from law-abiding citizens who were never charged with a crime.

I have clients who are security guards duly licensed under Act 235 and citizens who simply carry pursuant to a duly issued concealed-carry license who have had their firearms taken during otherwise-routine police stops. For many, their only offense was lawfully carrying a gun while being a member of a racial minority, lawfully carrying a firearm in a bad neighborhood or simply running afoul of some police officer’s skewed – and illegal – sense of who should not get his firearm back after a police encounter.

The officers who take these firearms, and the police supervisors who encourage it with the full knowledge of the police commissioner, know that most firearms cost less than $1,000 and that it will take many times that amount in legal fees to effect a return of a firearm through the courts. They take property with impunity, knowing most victims won’t challenge the illegal seizure.

Why not go back and ask the Philadelphia Police Department to give totals of just how many of those guns Ms. Shea saw were seized from people actually charged with a crime? You’ll find the numbers truly shocking.

Now that I’d like to know. The self-righteous anti-Second Amendment poetry and condescending ignorant indignation I could do without. As could we all.