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.