In the audience were dozens of Philadelphia teens who'd been popped for illegal gun possession or drugs or theft or robbery.

City Councilman Juan Ramos asked: If he wanted a gun, could the teen get it for him?

Over and over, the answer was: "No problem."

Tyrell Woods, 17, who was arrested on a gun charge and has been participating in a turnaround program called "Don't Fall Down in the Hood," offered sage advice.

"I don't think it would be a problem for any youth to find a gun for you now. It's how crazy guns is in the neighborhood. It's just like going to the store and getting some chips or something," Woods said.

All that and a bag of chips.

It was a startling day of testimony in a City Council used to the bloviated meanderings of city bureaucrats and pols. The hearing was the idea of City Councilwoman Donna Miller, who chairs Council's public-safety committee.

The kids urged the Council elders to push for more jobs and training, better schools and safer recreation centers. But nothing really new was in the program advice offered. City government has wrestled with funding all of this for years.

Rather, it was the nonchalant bearing and chilling stories from youths who are trying to turn away from corner violence that hit home.

Lamar Stalworth, 19, was hanging out when a cop ran by chasing a kid. The cop's gun fell to the ground. Stalworth picked it up, knowing he could sell it for serious cash.

But the cops "locked the neighborhood down," found out he had the gun, found him, beat him and tossed him in jail. Now a devotee of the Don't Fall Down in the Hood program, he's been looking for work to care for his daughter.

Facing a gang coming down the block looking for him, Thomas Carter, 15, ran inside his home and came out with his father's shotgun. "What up now?" he said to his attackers. Chasing them around a corner, Carter was disarmed and arrested by an undercover cop.

Ramos asked him how easy it is to get a gun. Saying he's had a couple of guns in the past, Carter said, "I could get you one. I know two or three spots."

Lonelle Parks, 17, said he had a switchblade and drugs in his pocket when a school security guard pinched him. Now out of school, Parks is thinking about a job-training program while he participates in Don't Fall Down in the Hood.

He told the Council committee the city needs to focus on children aged 9 to 12 years. Well-funded recreation centers can play a major role, he said, but they need to make the centers safer.

Archye Leacock, executive director of Don't Fall Down in the Hood, said the city needs to spend money on creating "quality opportunities" for kids.

With the purchase of a gun just 30 minutes away, Leacock said, children need better alternatives.

"We are wasting our young people's lives. We need more quality choices, employment, better schools, safer playgrounds," he said.

"More police is just not the answer . . . We don't need to send police to harass them and arrest them. Let's do a little less of that and a little more listening and talking and providing choices."