As the bodies of fellow faith leaders lined the hot white pavement outside Chuck’s Gun Shop, Ernest Gray led in prayer through a bullhorn.
“We’re tired of the killing. We’re tired of the violence. We’re tired of the profiteering of the people who make the weapons, 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 firearm store for a “die-in” protest Wednesday morning. The multidenominational coalition demanded comprehensive national gun restrictions and criticized potential criminal access to firearms in suburbs and nearby states.
Gun violence threatens all people until lawmakers pass federal gun legislation, said the Rev. Michael Plfeger of St. Sabina Catholic Church. He said it was irresponsible that the Senate was arguing about age limits for assault-style weapons.
“Assault weapons should not be sold to anybody. These are weapons of war,” Pfleger said.
Many speakers took issue with recent attacks suggesting Chicago’s strict gun laws don’t work.
“What good is it for Chicago to have responsible and restrictive gun laws when people can drive five minutes to get guns over here at the age of 18,” said Ira Acree, pastor of Austin’s Greater St. John Holiness Baptist Church.
Ashowed Chuck’s Gun Shop as the leading source of guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes. Chuck’s had sold about 1,000 crime guns over four years, the police report said.
Faith leaders have protested at Chuck’s before. Pfleger and the Rev. Jesse Jackson wereat a June 2007 Chuck’s protest.
A man closed the gun shop’s folding gate as protesters assembled outside. Store representatives declined to comment on the protest.
The faith leaders lay on the ground for 20 minutes.
“We are willing to lay our bodies down because we don’t want to see any other young people shot down on the streets,” said the Rev. James T. Meeks of Salem Baptist Church on the Far South Side.
Gray said he has buried four young men killed by guns over the past few years. He’s tired of the resignation, of the “sense that this is the way it always is” that eventually follows deaths.
“This is a broader systemic issue that has been continually kicked down the road,” he said.
Pam Terrell wore a necklace showing her son, 18-year-old Terrell Bosley. Terrell Bosley was shot and killed as he exited a church before choir practice in 2006.
“We need some commonsense 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 got guns flooding our community, this will continue to happen.”
A picture of her son as a toddler is on the side of the necklace that faces her heart.