Friendly Fire

Everyone knows lots of Philadelphians are armed. But not all of them are criminals.

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Aug. 1, 2007

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He says he doubts he'd have succeeded with his fists, a knife or a baseball bat.


Chris Peelout and Cecilia Deville--tattooed West Philly punk rockers--own a Ravin Arms .25 pistol. "I don't have a name for it," says Peelout. "I don't pet it."

They live in an apartment decorated with punkish bric-a-brac "thrown out by stupid Ivy League assholes." There's a copy of Sigmund Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents in the bathroom.

When they got married, says Peelout, "The justice of the peace gave us the script, and we just crossed out anything mentioning God, and wrote 'rock 'n' roll' at the end."

The couple say their pistol is for protection. Peelout tells of a neighbor who shot a guy who came crashing through his window. He says he saw the life die in the eyes of another kid shot in the street outside--"100 hundred yards from where I sleep."

One Philly gun owner tells PW he knew exactly where to go to buy an illegal gun, and just what to say. "Hey, yo, I'm looking for a piece. Something with no bodies on it." But he won't name the street. "Those guys get pissy about people calling attention to them, and I do live pretty close."

Another Philly gun owner says he's been approached to make an illegal straw purchase. (He refused.)

Several gun owners politely refuse to tell PW whether they've ever drawn their weapons.


This story was initially supposed to include a diary of Philly gun crime. But after the first dozen deaths, it seemed pointless.

Tooled up or gunless, we all live in the Philadelphia where an 18-year-old motorist shot a 14-year-old cyclist; where cops fired 85 shots to put down a mentally ill man; where Philadelphians murder 400-plus other Philadelphians every year. And bereave, terrify, cripple, scar and traumatize countless others.

Talk to gun owners, and you'll hear a hundred stories.

Twenty-five-year-old Joel Magda, a bartender from Mt. Airy, talks about that special moment when the woman you're making out with discovers the gun in your waist holster. "That's kinda interesting," he says.

Magda grew up in suburban Warrington, and moved to the city five years ago.

"In my job you talk to people," he says. "You'd be surprised who carries a gun around here. Real liberal-looking people."

Thirty-two-year-old Kenyatta Donley, a marketing manager from Upper Darby, says he appeared in Armed America "to present a different picture of a young black man who owns guns--a homeowner with two degrees."

An NRA member, Donley has written the organization, "asking them to reach out more to black gun owners."

Active in city politics, Donley's a Mercedes-driving Mason, a keen competitive shooter and a serious cigar nut. He once spent $30 on a single smoke.

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1. gunholsters said... on Jan 20, 2009 at 07:12PM

“Interesting group of people. One thing about gun ownership, both legal and illegal, is that it crosses all typical boundaries like race, religion, economic status, etc. Every visit to my local gun show features an interesting cross section of society. I saw a priest (collar and all) buying a handgun at the last show. It takes all kinds to make the world turn.”

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