Here's to you, Dave
by Sam Cohen
October 24, 2001
David Kalil and his brother Rob owned one of my favorite gun stores, Gun & Sport North, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Dave was an immensely likeable, good-looking guy with something about him that spoke of gentleness. He always seemed to wear a shy smile, and talked to you in a soft voice -- kind of surprising, considering all the big, loud, tough-guy cops that hung out in the store. Remarkably, Dave's other job was as a motorcycle cop in a nearby town. Dave loved both of his jobs, his gun collection, and his motorcycle -- but he always found time for his wife as well.
Dave was also the gunsmith in the family, and his work reflected his personality: knowledgeable, careful, and considerate. He once showed me a revolver he'd tuned, and I'll never forget how the grin slowly spread over his face as I worked the action.
One night a few months ago, after he closed up the store, he was mugged on his way to his car. He was armed, of course, and would have been within his rights to shoot his attackers -- but didn't, firing a warning shot instead and holding the bad guys until the local police arrived.
Dave and I both collected handguns, and I think of him every time I pick up my favorite one. It's a fairly inexpensive item, just a 30-year-old specimen of the type of medium-size .38 Special revolver that police commonly used in the 70s. (It's a Smith Model 15.) The previous owner had foolishly stored it in a leather holster for some years, so the finish was lightly pitted with corrosion, and the blueing is moderately worn from previous daily carry. The mechanism, however, was, and is, butter-smooth, perfectly timed, and with the kind of precise "feel" that you rarely find in production revolvers; the gun is also wonderfully accurate. I have that revolver because one day, when I walked into the store, Dave took it out of the case and offered it to me for three-quarters of the marked price. He appreciated that gun for the rarity that it was, and wanted me to have it because he knew I'd feel the same way about it.
Sure, I bought a few guns from the store over the years, but nothing that expensive. Dave would consistently undercharge me for gunsmithing, and always seemed to offer discounts whenever I did buy something; when I insisted on paying full price -- because that's the right thing to do in a neighborhood store run by your friends -- we had a running joke that we each drove a hard bargain.
Those of us who have been around guns know that people like Dave are the rule, not the exception. Whenever I met someone who didn't understand the "gun culture," and who thought of us gun owners as redneck louts, I would want to introduce them to Dave. It's a cliché, but he was one of the nicest people I've ever known.
David Kalil lost his battle with cancer and passed away last Sunday. He was only forty years old.
We all miss you terribly, Dave. Ave atque vale.