Toy Gun Easter Baskets? Chicago Priest In Violence-Plagued Community Outraged

Rev. Michael Pfleger has participated in a fair share of funerals and anti-violence marches near his church on Chicago's South Side. Gun violence is all too common in the area, and he is now asking area toy stores to do their share to stop it.

Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Auburn-Gresham, took to his Facebook page early Wednesday to express outrage over big box stores selling toy guns in Easter baskets. The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a letter he wrote to Kmart asking that the toys be removed from the shelves.

“With the increasing gun violence in Chicago and across this country, I am amazed that you would choose to offer toy guns to our children to make them comfortable with playing with them. I am asking you to remove any baskets with toy guns in them from your store’s shelves immediately,” Pfleger wrote.

“We respect the opinions of our customers,” a spokesman for Kmart's parent company told the Sun-Times. “However, we believe these items are clearly packaged as water toys and are almost identical to items sold by many other retailers.”

Just last week, Pfleger led an anti-violence march near 79th and Loomis, where a 22-year-old man was gunned down in the parking lot of a White Castle.

"We will not tolerate shooting," Pfleger chanted, according to ABC Chicago. "There will not be genocide in this city, in this community."

Pfleger has urged parents to tell store managers if they are uncomfortable with the toy guns.