Cleaning up his beard after a morning at church, Willie Lightly put his comb in his pocket while waiting for the 3 bus at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Lightly and his friend Gwen Toler used to live at 24th and Berks streets before moving to South Philadelphia, where Lightly said things are a bit calmer and there is less violence.
“We used to live at 24th and Berks, and it was worse back in the day,” Lightly said. “Now we’re in South Philly in a nice neighborhood. We don’t have a lot of gun violence down there.”
Toler, who ventures north with Lightly to attend church services, said the overuse of guns in the United States is partly due to those who own guns and how many they own.
“The only person that should have them is the law men,” Toler said. “If you ain’t a cop, you don’t need a gun.”
Though Toler made an exception for people practicing self-defense if their home is being burglarized, she said straw purchases – when an individual buys a firearm for someone unable to acquire one – are a huge problem in the city.
“We go to church every Sunday, feed homeless people and encourage them to stay off the drugs and stay away from the guns,” Lightly added.
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.