Father Pfleger celebrates birthday by standing on street asking Americans to put down guns

CHICAGO -- Father Michael Pfleger spent his birthday on Tuesday standing in the middle of a street on the city's South Side holding up a sign urging Americans to put down their guns.

The outspoken priest posted on Facebook that he would spend two hours standing in the middle of 79th Street and Racine Avenue holding up a sign that says, "AMERICAN PUT DOWN YOUR GUNS...STOP THE NRA SAVE OUR CHILDREN!"

He said his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., always spent his birthday doing something for others, so Pfleger wanted to do something as well. He said he wanted to draw attention to the "murdering of our children."

Pfleger has spoken out about the city's gun violence before. Just recently, he joined Chicago high school students when they took to the streets after the shooting in Texas.

Pfleger posted a Facebook live video of him on the street.

Tuesday was Pfleger's 69th birthday.

Gun debate continues across nation

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday defended his call for a school boycott until gun laws change, telling CNN's Kate Bolduan it "would shock the nation" but that he believes "we need to create tension to compel lawmakers to change."

Duncan, who served under former President Barack Obama, floated the idea of pulling kids out of schools as a way to push for a change to gun laws last week in the aftermath of a fatal school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

On Tuesday, Duncan acknowledged that the idea is "radical" and "provocative," but suggested it might be an effective way to shake up the status quo on the issue of gun control.

"I know it would be very difficult," he said. "It's counter to everything I've talked about all my life of trying to get kids to school and to stay in school, but I just think as a nation we're at a breaking point and we just cannot continue to allow our children and our adults to die due to senseless gun violence."

Duncan went on to say, "what I'm talking about is an idea -- for all the difficultly, for all the impractically about it -- I think would shock the nation, would create the kind of tension that we've lacked, and we need to create tension to compel lawmakers to change."

Ten people were killed in last week's school shooting, and President Donald Trump acknowledged shortly afterward that such incidents have been "going on too long in our country."

Duncan said on Tuesday that students "wouldn't have to stay out (of schools) forever" if a boycott were to take place.

"What I've said is if we looked at this early in September," he said, "did it for a couple of days, see whether lawmakers react or not, and either way we go to the voting booth in November."