Retail Stores Bow to Public Pressure on Guns

Walmart / Getty Images

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Three of America's largest retail stores have bowed to public pressure and announced plans to change their policy on gun sales in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, earlier this month.

Dick's Sporting Goods on Wednesday announced plans to end the sale of all "assault-style" rifles, raise the minimum age for all firearm purchases to 21, and stop selling high-capacity magazines. Dick's chairman and CEO, Edward W. Stack, made the announcement after the retailer conducted an audit of all gun sales after the Parkland shooting and found that, in November, it sold a shotgun to Nikolas Cruz, the alleged perpetrator of the attack on the high school.

Stack also said that his decision was swayed by the active campaign for gun control being waged by survivors of the Parkland shooting in coordination with Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, a group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Dick's decision followed a similar effort that the retailer made in 2012 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Following Dick's announcement this week, Walmart said that it too would raise the age to purchase firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age. Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, also announced that it would remove the sale of items resembling "assault-style" rifles from its website, including non-lethal "airsoft guns and toys."

Walmart's announcement builds off of a broader decision made in 2015, which removed semiautomatic weapons, such as the Colt AR-15, from its inventory.

America's largest supermarket chain, Kroger, announced Thursday that it was updating its firearm policy. Kroger will raise the age for firearm purchase from 18 to 21 years of age in its Fred Meyer stores, located in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The company, which stopped selling "assault-style" rifles in its stores years ago, also plans to stop accepting special-orders for those weapons in Alaska.

A significant amount of news coverage has centered around the fact that many of these retailers have chosen to stop selling "assault-style" rifles and to raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21. Few have noted, however, that federal law already prohibits licensed gun sellers—such as Dick's, Walmart, and Kroger—from allowing anyone under the age of 21 years of age to purchase a handgun.

Although federal law does allow these retailers to sell rifles, including "assault-style" rifles, to anyone 18 or older, many had already chosen to discontinue the sale of "assault" weapons in the past. The announcements by Dick's, Walmart, and Kroger only apply to a small number of specialized chain stores or locations in specific jurisdictions that still continued to sell "assault-style" rifles.

Haris Alic

Haris Alic   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Haris Alic is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the staff, Haris worked in communications and government relations at various non-profits. Haris lives in Northern Virginia. His Twitter handle is @realHarisAlic. He can be reached at alic@freebeacon.com.

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