CHICAGO (CBS) — Activist priest Rev. Michael Pfleger has taken his battle against illegal guns to court. He has sued three suburbs, claiming they haven’t kept a close enough eye on gun shops.
Riverdale, Lincolnwood, and Lyons are home to three gun shops which Pfleger and other activists claim are responsible for selling a huge number of guns used in crimes on Chicago’s streets. They recently put that number at 2,500 in a five-year span.
Riverdale is home to Chuck’s Gun Shop, which has been the site of protests for years, because gun control activist claim its owners don’t do enough to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of criminals. Pfleger and other activists also claim Midwest Sporting Goods in west suburban Lyons has been looking the other way when it comes to handgun sales. Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood also is under fire.
The lawsuit alleges officials in Riverdale, Lincolnwood, and Lyons allow the businesses to sell handguns in a manner that disproportionately jeopardizes the lives of African Americans. That’s why they’re filing a lawsuit that might be the first of its kind.
“I’m here this morning as part of this lawsuit, because I’m tired of seeing the bloodbath taking place in our city’s streets. We all understand the realities,” Pfleger said. “Riverdale, Lyons, and Lincolnwood; you have failed to enforce best practices on your own. We pray that this lawsuit will now force your hand, because it’s time to shut off the gun flow onto the streets of Chicago.”
The suit seeks an order requiring the villages to institute what the plaintiffs call “common sense reforms,” such as background checks for gun store employees, training to prevent straw purchases, establishing a ‘black list’ of customers not allowed to buy guns, and a log of all firearms sold and later linked to crimes.
“Filing this lawsuit is only the beginning. We’re going to continue on this path, until we bring them to justice, those that sell these guns, and don’t care about how it affects our communities,” said Rev. Robin Hood, pastor of Redeemed Outreach Ministries.
The gun shops themselves are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.
In a statement, Lyons Village President Christopher Getty said the village has repeatedly met with the Chicago Police Department and the Emanuel administration in the past two years to discuss their concerns about Midwest Sporting Goods.
“We have recommended the Chicago Police place an officer at the gun store to monitor gun sales, but they have repeatedly declined that recommendation,” Getty said.
“Lyons continues to monitor and work with the gun store to ensure that it follows the letter of the law. We believe they do follow all regulations on gun sales as mandated by the state and federal government. The gun shop is also regulated by the Illinois State Police and the Federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF),” he added. “The Village of Lyons has not been served or seen the lawsuit so we cannot comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit. However, it is obvious the City is looking to pass the blame onto outside communities and businesses for the crimes and short-comings in dealing with the crimes in neighborhoods within the City of Chicago. We are saddened by the recent events in the City and hope Chicago can start to improve conditions for its residents.”
Representatives for Lincolnwood and Riverdale have not responded to requests for comment.