Faith leaders hold ‘die-in’ protest at Chicago gun shop

As the bodies of fellow believers lined the hot white sidewalk outside Chuck’s Gun Shop, Ernest led Gray through a megaphone in prayer.

“We’re tired of killing. We are tired of the violence. We’re tired of the profit making of the people who make the guns, oh God,” said Gray, pastor of Keystone Baptist Church on the city’s west side.

Nearly 40 people, including dozens of faith leaders, gathered outside the Riverdale firearms store Wednesday morning for a “die-in” protest. The multi-denominational coalition demanded extensive national gun restrictions and criticized possible criminal access to firearms in suburbs and nearby states.

Gun violence threatens all people until lawmakers pass federal gun laws, said Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church. He said it was irresponsible for the Senate to argue over age limits for assault weapons.

“Assault weapons should not be sold to anyone. These are weapons of war,” Pfleger said.

Many speakers disagreed with recent attacks, suggesting that Chicago’s strict gun laws aren’t working.

“What good is Chicago having responsible and restrictive gun laws if people can drive five minutes here at age 18 to get guns,” said Ira Acree, pastor of the Greater St. John Holiness Baptist Church in Austin.

A comprehensive report on gun traces from 2017 showed Chuck’s Gun Shop as the main source of weapons recovered from the Chicago crime scene. Chuck’s had sold about 1,000 crime weapons in four years, the police report said.

Faith leaders have protested to Chuck before. Pfleger and Reverend Jesse Jackson were arrested for trespassing during a Chuck protest in June 2007.

A man closed the gun shop’s folding gate as protesters gathered outside. Representatives of the store declined to comment on the protest.

Faith leaders hold 'die-in' protest at Chicago gun shop

The faith leaders lay on the floor for 20 minutes.

“We are willing to lay down our bodies because we don’t want other young people to be shot in the street,” said Rev. James T. Meeks of Salem Baptist Church on the Far South Side.

Gray said he has buried four young men killed by firearms in recent years. He is tired of being fired, the ‘feeling that this is always the case’ that eventually follows death.

“This is a broader systemic problem that is constantly thrown out on the road,” he said.

Faith leaders hold 'die-in' protest at Chicago gun shop

Pam Terrell wore a necklace featuring her son, Terrell Bosley, who was shot and killed at age 18 as he left a church before the choir rehearsed in 2006.

“We need healthy gun reform,” said Pam Bosley, who represented Purpose Over Pain, a Chicago nonprofit made up of parents affected by gun violence. “As long as we get guns flooding our community, this will continue to happen.”

A photo of her son as a toddler is on the side of the necklace facing her heart.

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