By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Residents of the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia scored a huge win this week: a group protested the sale of soft-pellet pistols at a local corner store, and won.
And now, their success could develop into full-blown movement.
You can buy the pistols, sometimes referred to as “airsoft,” in the toy section of area stores for about two bucks. They’re black plastic (with an orange tip) and shoot plastic pellets.
But with a little paint, they could pass for a real firearm.
“All I want is for them to stop selling BB guns to our kids,” says Sean Williams, 40, a father of two. He recorded cell phone video this weekend after spying a group of kids playing with the pistols purchased from a corner store on Point Breeze Avenue.
His video went viral and he called his friend, Anton Moore, a community organizer who runs the nonprofit organization Unity in the Community.
“Imagine if these kids start using these to rob people,” says Moore, “or if an officer pulls up and he sees them reaching for something. They don’t have time to determine if the gun is real or fake — they’re just going to shoot.”
Moore and Nakia Carr organized a Labor Day protest outside the 8 Brothers Market, which has sold the pistols, in violation of city code.
“With gun violence in our community, we don’t need our children imitating what can happen — or becoming victims or targets,” says Carr, who had a family member die after being shot with a BB gun. “This is personal,” she says. “Plus, the community is outraged at what is going on.”
A man who identified himself as a supervisor at 8 Brothers Market says the store has stopped selling the toy pistols.
But other stores still likely carry them.
“This is something that is happening everywhere,” says Moore. “I heard about North Philly, West Philly, Southwest — this is disrespectful to our community. We can’t tolerate this.”
Carr and Moore say they visited nearly a dozen corner stores who told them the toy pistols were “out of stock” but they’d have more next week. The duo says they’ll protest other stores in the city where the toy pistols are being sold.
“We talked with the (Pennsylvania) attorney general’s office and the state police on how we can address this issue,” says Jordan Harris, a state representative whose district includes Point Breeze. “We need to make sure no kid in the commonwealth can get their hands on these guns.”
That’s why Moore and his crew have their eyes on the bigger prize.
“Not only do we want people to get mad about the BB guns, but we want to take the fight straight to the streets about the real guns,” Moore says.