Statement of Mimi Copp

Brethren in Christ, Circle of Hope, Shalom House (Philadelphia, PA)


Good afternoon, your honor. My name is Miriam Copp. I live at 401 S. 51st St. I have been a resident of Phila for the last 7 years living in Germantown, Mt. Airy and now West Philadelphia

I am a Christian Peacemaker by vocation. I live with 3 other Christians in a community house called Shalom House, which we founded 2 years ago, where we live and work together engaging in pro-active peacemaking.

I also work for the Bright Lights Initiative, working with elementary school children in North Philadelphia. In many different conversations, Bright Light students and I have had together on violence in their neighborhoods; many have shared matter-of-factly where one can easily buy a gun in their neighborhoods.

The reality of illegal gun accessibility is at the heart of my intent on going into Mr. Colosimo's store.

My intention was to confront Mr. Colosimo in good faith, in a spirit of nonviolence, anchored in our religious faiths, to have him sign the Code of Conduct, which would help stem the tide of guns flowing into the black market. Our intent was to get his signature, which would indicate his willingness to sell guns more responsibly.

I cannot accept the gun violence that chokes this city. On average, in the last 5 year, 304 people have been shot down and killed each year.

Last year, Colosimo's, the NRA and another Philadelphia gun retailer sued the city because of 5 ordinances the City Council and Mayor passed to reduce gun violence. The City Solicitor's Office compiled its evidence as to why it passed these ordinances.

In it's pleading, Dr. William Schwab, who 20 years ago established the trauma center at the Hospital of the Univ. of PA where most gun shot victims are hospitalized, told the City Solicitor's office that

"Philadelphia is in the throes of an epidemic of firearm violence...One of the significant contributing factors causing the severity of this crisis is the unrestricted access to firearms."

His gunshot wound patients have "repeatedly and consistently told him that anyone, including minors can easily obtain a firearm in Philadelphia."

The Shalom - the state of right relationships, the peace -- of this city is not being torn down by itself. We tear it down and we must work to build it back up.

We owe it to the victims of gun violence and to our communities, to ask ourselves - individuals, institutions, businesses - how are we complicit? How are we complacent - in the violence that destroys the Shalom of our City? What must we do? And then act upon the answers.

Then we must confront & challenge one another. We must pressure each other to make positive changes. That is how change happens.

Through my ignorance, silence and inaction over the years, I have condoned the selling of guns to straw purchasers, the trafficking of guns, and the killings that follow.

Then we learned through data from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives, and the City Solicitor's office that Colosimo's Gun Center sold 1/5 of all crime guns, used in Philadelphia during the latest time period the ATF has data available.

We, the general public, do not have the latest numbers because this information has been suppressed through the Tiahrt Amendment.

We learned that The ATF has informed Mr. Colosimo of these numbers.

We learned that Colosimo's Gun Center is a part of a very small number of gun dealers who are the source of the majority of crime guns. Crime guns, being "any firearm that was used in the commission of a crime, illegally possessed or investigated for use in a crime."

We learned that the ATF has identified how gun trafficking occurs. It mainly happens through selling multiple guns to a single buyer who is usually a straw purchaser.

The ATF has relayed these findings onto the gun retail industry so they know the strong correlation between multiple sales to a single buyer and crime guns.

Because of these findings, many gun dealers refuse to make these kinds of sales. Colosimo's Gun Center, on the other hand, has continued these types of sales knowing all this.

The largest gun retailer in the country came up with a series of sound business practices for retailers to follow and this is where the Code of Conduct comes from that we asked Mr. Colosimo to sign.

We could not turn a blind eye to this so that is why we went to Mr. Colosimo to have him sign the Code of Conduct.

I am compelled by my Christian faith to love my neighbor and my enemy. I have a responsibility as a citizen to uphold the rights in our constitution, which includes the right to life. Mr. Colosimo's business practices are infringing on the rights of others to be alive and they are destroying God's creation, which is simply not acceptable.