Dick’s Sporting Goods Announces Limits On Gun Sales, Stops Selling “Assault Weapons”

Dick's Sporting Goods will no longer sell "assault weapons" at any of its stores, and will limit the sale of any gun to people aged 21 and above.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, a nationwide chain that is among the largest retailers selling guns in its stores, announced this morning that it would be changing policy regarding the sale of firearms, including a bar on selling so-called “assault weapons” in any of its stores:

One of the nation’s largest sports retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, said Wednesday morning it was immediately ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores.

The retailer also said that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines and that it would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws.

The announcement, made two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members, is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate. It also carries symbolic weight, coming from a prominent national gunseller.

Late last week, after coming under attack on social media for their ties to the National Rifle Association, a number of major companies, including Hertz car rental, MetLife insurance and Delta Air Lines, publicly ended those relationships, issuing brief, carefully phrased statements.

But Edward Stack, the 63-year-old chief executive of Dick’s whose father founded the store in 1948, is deliberately steering his company directly into the storm, making clear that the company’s new policy was a direct response to the Florida shooting.

“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” Mr. Stack said in an interview Tuesday evening. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us.”

He added, “We’re going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and, hopefully, bring people along into the conversation.”

Mr. Stack said he hoped that conversation would include politicians. As part of its stance, Dick’s is calling on elected officials to enact what it called “common sense gun reform” by passing laws to raise the minimum age to purchase guns to 21, to ban assault-type weapons and so-called bump stocks, and to conduct broader universal background checks that include mental-health information and previous interactions with law enforcement.

Mr. Stack said the retailer began scouring its purchase records shortly after the identity of the suspected Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, became known. The company soon discovered it had legally sold a gun to Mr. Cruz in November, though it was not the gun or type of gun used in the school shooting.

“But it came to us that we could have been a part of this story,” he said. “We said, ‘We don’t want to be a part of this any longer,'” said Mr. Stack.

That decision raised rounds of discussions with top executives inside the company as well as the directors, all of whom backed the decision to take a stance, said Mr. Stack.

As of Wednesday morning, the company said all AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles would be removed from its stores and websites.

Mr. Stack said Dick’s remained a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and will continue to sell a variety of sport and hunting firearms. Although he has never been a member of the N.R.A., Mr. Stack said he is, in fact, a gun owner and enjoys trapshooting clay

But when it comes to selling guns to individuals under 21 years of age or stocking assault-style rifles, Mr. Stack said his company was done. “We don’t want to be a part of a mass shooting,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Dick’s has taken a step into the gun control/gun rights debate. In the immediate aftermath of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the chain stopped selling AR-15s and other “assault style” rifles in its stores. Several months later, though these types of weapons did show up again in the retailers “Field And Stream” subsidiary stores, which have roughly two dozen locations around the country. This decision applies both to the much larger Dick’s brand and to Field and Stream and it means that such weapons will no longer be available for sale at any of the retail locations owned by the company regardless of which brand they belong to. Dick’s is also not the first major retailer to announce that it would not sell “assault weapons” in its stores. In August 2015, Walmart announced that it would immediately cease selling “assault” style weapons in its stores, a decision that came after a concerted public lobbying effort on the part of gun control advocates and their supporters.

In Dick’s case, of course, the decision comes just two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left seventeen High School students dead at the hands of a former student who had been expelled a year earlier and apparently had a long history of run-ins with police and other authorities. It also comes amid a campaign that has spread rapidly on social media to pressure companies into cutting ties with the National Rifle Association. As a result of this campaign, dozens of businesses, including perhaps most prominently several of the nation’s top airlines, have ended discount and other programs it made available to NRA members. Additionally, several insurance companies that underwrote the policies that the NRA offered to individual gun owners and to school districts to cover allowing teachers and other civilians to carry weapons on campus has announced that they would no longer offer the policies, meaning that the program has effectively ended. While we had seen similar national campaigns after mass shooting events in the past, none of them has had quite the same impact as the one we’ve seen over the past two weeks, and it seems likely that it will only pick up steam now that it has proven to be so successful.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Guns and Gun Control, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    Dick’s Sporting Goods will now be branded a “Liberal gun grabbing gun store” and NRA members will tweet it death threats.




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  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    Google has also banned all firearms accessories from it’s shopping search.

    Which also appears to have resulted in things like 70s punk band the Sex Pistols or the Beatles album Revolver also being banned from the shopping search.




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  3. Not the IT Dept. says:

    So shines a good deed in a weary world.

    I’ve sent an email to their corporate HQ to praise the decision lavishly. I think other people should too.




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  4. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You can’t buy burgundy–as in wine–either.




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  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    @CSK:

    No, burgundy wine still works.




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  6. JKB says:

    Dick’s Sporting Goods announces it will not sell semi automatic rifles….again. How long will they hold out this time? Ho hum.

    “and to conduct broader universal background checks that include mental-health information and previous interactions with law enforcement.”

    Yeah, that would work now except will hardly work when school and sheriff officials work to ensure the person is never arrested for the many assaults, much less convicted and the mental health officials never pursue any type of assessment or adjudication that might show up in NICS, if state officials were to deign to submit the records.




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  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    @CSK:

    However, the Indianapolis Colts are verboten.




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  8. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Related…Mike Pence says legal abortion will end in our time…which is helpful as we are going to need more children to sacrifice to the NRA gods.




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  9. Kit says:

    While I applaud the decision not to stock assault weapons, I disagree with the policy of not selling to people under 21: any business that hangs its shingle in the public square has an obligation to serve all (legal) customers.




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  10. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Dick’s Sporting Goods is doing what Republicans don’t have the balls to do…




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  11. gVOR08 says:
  12. Hal_10000 says:

    While I doubt this will do any good, I’m fine with Dicks’ decision. Their business; their rules. They’re under no obligation to sell anything they don’t want to. In fact, I think gun control advocates would make more progress trying to get businesses to voluntarily do this sort of thing than trying to get Congress to act.




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  13. Tyrell says:

    I wonder if this will affect crossbow sales.
    Open season in effect now on striped skunks, no limit.




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  14. James Joyner says:

    A commenter on our Facebook page raised a point allied with @Kit‘s and in direct contravention to @Hal_10000‘s: We have several court rulings to the effect that public accomodations (such as bakeries and wedding planners) can’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, even on religious grounds. How can Dick’s (and Walmart), which are also public accomodations, discriminate against legal adults on the basis of age?




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  15. @James Joyner:
    @James Joyner:

    Eugene Volokh has a partial explanation.

    On the Federal level, there does not appear to be a bar to this kind of discrimination by a retailer and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not cover age. However, there are at least some states and localities that have anti-discrimination laws that appear to cover retailers and which don’t exempt gun purchases.




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