Local faith leaders call for crackdown on imitation firearms

Leaders in Boston’s faith community are calling for area businesses to stop selling imitation guns and for parents to stop purchasing imitation guns for their children.

“We made the call so that we can hopefully get them off the street, but really, to prevent a child from dying,” said Rev. Mark Scott of Azusa Christian Community at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. “Parents have the power and the ability to do something. If we don’t buy them, companies won’t make them.”

Scott was joined by representatives from local faith groups including the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Boston Ten Point Coalition, Morning Star Baptist Church, the Twelfth Baptist Church, and the Charles Street A.M.E. Church. State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, wife of Reporter publisher and editor Bill Forry also attended the press conference at Mother’s Rest Park at Four Corners, who called restricting access to look-alike guns a “commonwealth issue.”

“You should touch one of these things because it’s quite shocking. You would think that it’s just plastic but it’s heavy,” Dorcena Forry said. “It is important for us to take a look at legislation but we have to put pressure on stores in our communities.”

In terms of legislation, Dorcena Forry referenced the work of State Rep. Dan Cullinane, also of Dorchester, who has previously introduced legislation to better regulate imitation firearms.

Scott also called for citywide a buyback program for imitation guns, similar to the city’s buyback program for real guns. After the press conference, Scott said he would seek philanthropic funding for such a program that could be run in contingent with the city.

“This has been percolating in the community for a while,” Scott said. “If you go to community meetings and talk to police, you keep hearing this come up. So we felt a sense of urgency that we needed to get the word out as much as we could and go out to our congregation and our members.”

Scott added that congregants would spread the word of the imitation gun push-back to friends and family members and disseminate the information through the community.

Rev. Traci Jackson Antoine of Morningstar Baptist Church and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts said Thursday’s call was not simply coming from the clergy.

“It’s not the work any one person would do, it can’t not just be the clergy, it can’t not just be the legislators, and it totally cannot just be the Boston Police Department,” Antoine said after the press conference. “We have got to work together and make this happen. We have to decide as a community that we’re not going to allow it and the way in which we’re not going to allow it is that we’re not going to allow our children to purchase these guns and we’re not going to allow our stores to sell them.”

Antoine said as a business owner herself, she understands “very well the importance of wanting your business to prosper but not at the expense of lives.” She and her husband own Riley Funeral Home in Roxbury. “If we want it to work, we all have to work together to make it happen.”

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