Kroger has asked shoppers to leave their guns at home and endorsed laws strengthening background checks and red flag laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of people designated as potentially dangerous. The action follows a declaration by rival Walmart, saying it will stop selling military-style assault rifle ammunition, discourage customers from openly carrying guns in its stores, and call on Congress to increase background checks and consider a new assault rifle ban.
- What will the gun restrictions by Walmart, Kroger, and Dick’s Sporting Goods mean for other retailers and gun shops?
- What moral courage does it take for a retail CEO to implement gun restrictions in their stores?
- What can business leaders do to activate Congress to craft bipartisan gun control legislation that can move through both chambers?
- According to Chris Allieri, crisis management expert and founder of PR firm Mulberry & Astor, “This is not some left-leaning, coastal CEO sending a tweet or two. This is Walmart saying. ‘This is how we’re going to do business going forward. Take note.’”
- Walmart’s decision was a blow to gun-rights advocates, some of whom had been showing up at Walmart locations carrying guns on their hips in the hope that the retailer would not shift its policies. Still, most firearms sales come from thousands of unaffiliated gun shops or gun shows, not big retail chains.
- At least 17 states now have approved some version of a red flag law, including Florida, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, and California. Before the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., only five states had such laws.
The world’s largest retailer had been under mounting calls to respond to two deadly shootings inside its stores this summer in El Paso, and Southaven, Miss. Walmart made its announcement after weeks of discussion and research about how best to respond. The decision is in line with public opinion polls that favor more gun controls with advocates, gun violence victims, and others stepping up calls for action.
The company said that after “selling through our current inventory commitments,” which could take several weeks, it would stop selling certain short-barrel rifle ammunition and all handgun ammunition.
According to a statement Tuesday, “Kroger is respectfully asking that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than authorized law enforcement officers. We are joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have found to pose a risk for violence.”
Ten shooting victims have died in Kroger supermarkets since 1991, according to a lawsuit filed in a Louisville court. Nine died within the last four years. Besides the deadly attacks, the lawsuit cites 18 other shootings in Kroger stores.
Kroger’s former policy, like many retailers, was to follow local and state laws on whether to permit gun owners to carry a firearm slung over their shoulder or holstered in a hip.
In states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Texas that don’t explicitly ban the open carry of firearms, it’s up to the property owner to establish what’s permissible in stores.