Heeding God's call? Embattled Colosimo reportedly closing gun shop

By DAVID GAMBACORTA Philadelphia Daily News - 09/24/2009

Local members of the interfaith group Heeding God's Call rejoiced yesterday when it became apparent they were close to winning their long-standing campaign against Colosimo's gun shop.

The group received its first piece of good news late Tuesday, when the U.S. Attorney's Office announced it had filed charges against the dealership for allegedly knowingly selling a total of 10 firearms to straw purchasers on six occasions.

Last night, members said that they had learned that James Colosimo, the 78-year-old owner of the gun shop, intended to fold his longtime business.

"It really is a good and positive development," said the Rev. Isaac Miller, who was among 12 people who were arrested for protesting at the shop in January. "I don't think there's any question that this guy was a bad actor in this whole business."

Heeding God's Call had targeted Colosimo's because law-enforcement data showed that a large number of guns sold at the shop had been used to commit violent crimes in the area.

"All of the bad guys in Philadelphia and Camden know they can straw-purchase guns at Colosimo's," said Bryan Miller, executive director of Ceasefire N.J., who worked closely with Heeding God's Call.

The clerical group met twice with Colosimo earlier this year in an attempt to get him to sign a 10-point code of conduct intended to cut down on straw purchases. Colosimo refused.

(A straw purchase is when a buyer uses an intermediary to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer.)

"This is all very ironic to us," Miller said. "We tried to make him address the very issue that he's being hung up on by the feds."

Federal authorities charged Colosimo with making false statements and with failing to properly maintain firearms transaction records.

Colosimo could not be reached for comment yesterday. His attorney, Joseph Canuso, told the Inquirer that Colosimo will close his store. Canuso did not return messages left by the Daily News.

"On the face of it, he comes across as a nice old guy," Rev. Miller said. "But what that store has been up to is plan old, stone-cold wrong."

DAVID GAMBACORTA gambacd@phillynews.com 215-854-5994

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