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Corporate Responsibility: What To Do About Gun Sales?
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Corporate Responsibility: What To Do About Gun Sales? - Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: What To Do About Gun Sales?

Executive Leadership Articles

Corporate Responsibility: What To Do About Gun Sales?

Whatever your position on gun ownership, it’s difficult after recent events not to think about our relationship with guns and with people whose opinions differ from our own on the issue. While we can agree that something needs to be done, we can’t seem to agree on what the something is.

There’s a lot of doubling down in moments following a crisis, each of us feeling justified in our convictions by the evidence before us. This is why it’s interesting to see enormous national retailers’ reactions this week to public sentiment. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, and Kroger have all changed their gun sales policies in what they’re calling responsibility to their communities.

“We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” writes Edward W. Stack, CEO and Chariman of Dick’s. “But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.” Dick’s is no longer selling firearms of any kind to anyone under 21 years of age, and it won’t sell assault rifles or high-capacity magazines. The national chain stopped selling assault rifles in its Dick’s stores after the Sandy Hook shooting, but now it is removing them as well from its Field and Stream stores.

Dick’s takes it a step further than not selling these products. In its media release, it implores elected officials to make laws consistent with these changes, and to improve the national background check system for gun purchasers. Whether you agree with the political stance or not, we’re seeing a major retailer give up selling a product and urge legislation at the risk of losing business. It is acting on its conscience, something it certainly doesn’t have to do.

Kroger similarly announced that it will no longer sell firearms to customers under age 21. In an email this week, it announced that “recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers.” Kroger operates Fred Meyer stores in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, from which it had already stopped selling assault rifles, but it will now stop selling them in its Alaska stores as well.

Walmart ceased assault rifle sales in 2015, but it now refuses to sell any firearms to customers under age 21. “We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms and go beyond Federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm,” the retail giant announced. “The law would allow the sale of a firearm if no response to a background check request has been received within three business days, but our policy prohibits the sale until an approval is given.” Additionally, the company’s websites will no longer offer items resembling assault rifles, including “nonlethal airsoft guns and toys.”
It’s one thing to see a huge drugstore pharmacy chain like CVS give up its cigarette sales in the interest of better public health, which it claims to promote. Cigarette smoking has seen a rapid dive in social status in the past couple of decades, to the point where we all—smokers and non-smokers—agree that smoking is bad for our health. And while CVS’s is certainly an admirable adjustment, it’s something else entirely to take sides with a political, cultural hot potato like gun control. Are Dick’s, Walmart, and Kroger making these moves to satisfy an increasingly impatient customer base? Perhaps, but they do so at the risk of losing everyone on the other side of the issue. In their stated opinion, the responsible thing is to take action, and they appear to be taking it.

Reference Links:
Dick’s Sporting Goods: http://pressroom.dicks.com/press-information/media-statements.aspx
Walmart: https://news.walmart.com/2018/02/28/walmart-statement-on-firearms-policy


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Corporate Responsibility: What To Do About Gun Sales? - Executive Leadership Articles

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