Anti-violence activists push Philly store owner to stop selling realistic toy guns

Justin Udo
December 03, 2018 - 2:00 pm
Lehigh Avenue Supermarket

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In a video that's circulating on multiple social media platforms, a group of men can be seen entering the Lehigh Avenue Supermarket in the Swampoodle section of North Philadelphia and confronting the store's workers about the company's decision to sell real-looking toy guns popular among kids and teens.

One man can be heard saying, "My grandson who brought this, you know how old he is? He's 10. He's 10!"

Anti-violence activist Terry Starks, with Express Urself Urban Crisis Response Center, is one of the men who confronted the store about selling the realistic toy guns. 

"We let them know we're not coming to bother your store, but we just want to get the guns out of the store," Starks said.

"They wasn't just selling guns, they were selling guns with silencers on. Guns with scope beams on them, like little 32 revolvers," Starks said. "When you see a kid pulling these guns out, you're going to be alarmed because at the end of the day you don't know if it's real or fake, and our job is to start with the fake."

Stark says these toy guns may seem like a non-issue to some, but they can do a lot of damage. 

"All through the city, you have 14-year-olds getting murdered," Starks said. "And a lot of times when you do the research on why the kid got murdered, it was a robbery with a fake gun." 

Starks says the fake guns are now in the hands of adolescents doing things they otherwise would not be able to do.

"It's been a heightened stream of robberies around there with the youth robbing elderly, robbing children, robbing females," he said.

The store owner has since removed the guns from shelves and has apologized for not being sensitive to the community's issues. 

"At first there was a hesitance, but then when they starting seeing the cars pull up from different community leaders, the guys came back out from the store and started taking the guns off the shelf," he said.

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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Swampoodle.