Dick’s responds to Parkland teens – won’t sell AR-15s anymore

Discussion
Source: Dick's Sporting Goods; Photo: Getty Images
Mar 01, 2018
George Anderson

Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced that it will no longer sell the AR-15 rifle and similar firearms after the recent murder of 17 students and teachers at a high school in Parkland, FL. Teens who survived the attack have led a public campaign calling on state and federal lawmakers to enact legislation that may prevent similar mass shootings from happening in the future.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones. But thoughts and prayers are not enough,” said Edward Stack, Dick’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organizing and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country. We have heard you. The nation has heard you.”

The retailer, which stopped selling the same class of rifles in its Dick’s stores after the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012 that took the lives of 20 small children and six teachers, has stocked them in its 35 Field & Stream stores. While Dick’s had announced a suspension of sales following Sandy Hook, Mr. Stack, whose father founded the company, said the latest decision is permanent.

In an interview on Good Morning America, Mr. Stack said the company researched its records to see if it had sold the weapon in the Parkland murders. While it did not, the internal investigation found that it had sold a gun to the accused in 2017.

“We did everything by the book,” Mr. Stack. “We did everything that the law required and still he was able to buy a gun. When we looked at that, we said, ‘The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that.’”

Dick’s also announced that it is raising the minimum age to purchase firearms and ammunition in its stores from 18 to 21. It also said it will no longer sell high-capacity magazines.

Mr. Stack, who is a gun owner and a longtime donor to the Republican party, called on Congress to pass legislation that would:

  • Ban the sale of “assault-style firearms” along with bump stocks and high-capacity magazines;
  • Raise the age to purchase guns to 21 and;
  • Require universal background checks including “relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law.”

Walmart, which ended sales of sporting rifles such as the AR-15 in 2015, also announced that it would no longer sell firearms and ammunition to anyone under 21. In a statement, the company said that it also does not sell handguns except in Alaska and that it does not offer high-capacity magazines or bump stocks. Walmart said it has a system in place to monitor its online marketplace to restrict the sale of these items by third parties, as well.

In its statement, Walmart said it prohibits the sale of a firearm if no background check has been approved, even though federal law allows a sale if there has been no response to a request within three business days.

Walmart also said it is removing items from its website, including non-lethal airsoft guns and toys, that look like the AR-15 and similar rifles.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Given the current political climate surrounding gun control, what do you think is the best business response from retailers that sell firearms? Will Dick’s Sporting Goods ultimately gain or lose more customers as a result of its decision regarding firearm sales in its stores?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Retailers make decisions about what they sell, and the move by Dick’s sends a strong message about where they stand on this issue."
"I believe Dick’s is on the right side of history and other retailers will step forward with similar common sense policies."
"Retailers and brands need to stand for something aside from quarterly profits and I commend Dicks and others for acting on this topic."

Join the Discussion!

28 Comments on "Dick’s responds to Parkland teens – won’t sell AR-15s anymore"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
George Anderson
Staff

Editor’s Note: Kroger announced that it is raising the purchase age for firearms at 43 Fred Meyer stores in the western U.S.

A statement from the company included the following:

“Recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers. We are raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase firearms and ammunition in all of our Fred Meyer locations that sell firearms. We stopped selling assault-style rifles in our Oregon, Washington and Idaho Fred Meyer stores several years ago and we will no longer accept any special-orders of these weapons in Alaska. Through Restock Kroger, we have a robust space optimization effort underway in many of our stores, including Fred Meyer locations. As we refresh stores we are often transitioning gun departments due to softer demand and changing customer preferences.”

Max Goldberg
Guest

Kudos to Dick’s and Walmart. If Congress is too scared to act, these retailers are listening to the public and making important decisions. I doubt this decision will cut into either store’s sales, and it will allow the management of these two companies to sleep better at night, knowing that the next time one of these massacres happen, the shooter will not have purchased his weapon at one of their stores.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

I commend Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart for their positions and changes to their gun sales policies. They are smart, and I believe other gun retailers will follow. We can’t stop gun sales nor should we, but we have to get smarter about who we sell guns to and what types of firearms are allowed for sale. This is an excellent first step and, hopefully, we will see more changes in the right direction. Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate active shooters but making it harder for them to get guns is a good beginning.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Watch for grateful customers purchasing items from these stores to show their solidarity, too.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

Agreed!

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Retailers make decisions about what they sell, and the move by Dick’s sends a strong message about where they stand on this issue. If the majority of people believe that the restrictions imposed by Dick’s (and other retailers) aligns with their own beliefs, then it will have no negative impact on Dick’s. In fact, for those who are strongly in favor of more stringent gun control, Dick’s decision could transform them into strong advocates for the brand. While I have no doubt that the management team at Dick’s calculated the potential financial downside of this new policy, from the outside, it sure sounds like a sincere and impassioned decision that’s about more than revenue.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

This country is based upon freedom. Dick’s, Walmart and every retailer are to free to choose what they sell. I am free to choose where I shop.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

It’s the right decision. While Congress limps along on this issue, it should give all of us some comfort in knowing that retailers are not waiting for our government to act.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

I commend the leadership at Dick’s, Kroger, Walmart and others who are doing something. I don’t really care if their decisions are motivated by self-serving PR — what’s important is that responsible, civic responsibility decisions are being taken. Perhaps our government will start acting like responsible students and stop being bickering adults.

Ron Margulis
BrainTrust

Dick’s and Walmart looked at the data and determined these actions won’t materially impact their bottom lines in even the medium-term, just as CVS did when it stopped selling tobacco products.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

From a business perspective is Ed Stack saying, “We will sustain any amount of sales customer losses if it saves just one life.”? Sounds about right to me.

I have never been in a Dick’s. I think I will check them out.

Anne Howe
Guest

It’s about time! Retailers have a chance to lead the way and take a stand on a national issue. It will likely cause them a few lost shoppers, but the overall gain is respect for standing tall.

Sky Rota
BrainTrust
1 year 10 months ago

Way to go Dick’s & Walmart! You don’t need Congress to give you the permission to do the right thing. I personally wasn’t going to buy my baseball supplies from a store that sells those weapons. The boycotts were set in place for Generation Z and you need our sales to survive. We are the ones that tell our parents where to shop.

You don’t want to be challenging us. We are ready to cut you all off, and you know how easily we spread the word!

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Kudos to Dick’s, Walmart, and any other retailer that follows in their footsteps on this issue. Much like what we’ve seen in other tech industries, this is an example of a retailer/brand taking action on something our government is to date incapable of getting past powerful lobbying groups. While I expect these business execs have examined their sales data to see what impact this may have on their bottom line, I suspect this is much more about being able to sleep at night and do something to further the greater good than it is about revenue. In the case of Dick’s, I suspect their execs breathed a sigh of relief when they found they were not responsible for selling the weapon involved in the Parkland shooting — but they clearly do not want to be part of the next incident. While some people may choose to stop shopping with these brands as a result, I suspect they will be in the minority and overall sales at these retailers will neither suffer nor gain substantially as… Read more »
Al McClain
Staff

Note: my PERSONAL opinion only. Congress appears paralyzed (surprise), so good for corporate America taking a stance. This is such a polarizing issue that retailers and brands really have to pick a side, and I think they have generally chosen the right one. It’s also a retail issue as we have had many, many “active shooter” scares in malls in recent years, and those frighten the heck out of retail workers, and rightly so.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

We have to give credit to these unbelievable teens from Parkland that have amplified this issue 10x over previous post school shooting press. The retailers are taking the lead from their current and future shoppers, which is incredible.

While it’s phenomenal to see the big boys take a stance, if the laws don’t change, the shadier side of online and gun show retailers will benefit and these people that want to commit these horrific acts will find a way to get their guns.

Peter Luff
BrainTrust

Dick’s move is not the first by a retailer in recent days. Circumstances have set a new standard for what is deemed as acceptable and they have acted accordingly. Retailers have a commercial duty to service customer needs for their investors. Retailers don’t set the standards, successful retailers simply reflect what the market wants. I am sure others will continue to follow this national trend.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
1 year 10 months ago

I’m impressed. It’s a cogent, thoughtful statement that is fully supportive of the vast majority of those who own guns and use them responsibly. It also reflects the sensibility of my friends who are also responsible gun owners.

Let’s hope that their leadership, regardless of the degree to which it may have been encouraged by the Florida shooter having purchased a shotgun from Dick’s, on the issue helps produce results.

My guess is that it’s an overall neutral to them in shoppers — which suggests there’s more courage required to make this statement than it might appear.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

It is encouraging that companies are making these decisions on their own, but a uniform federal requirement should be put in place.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

For all of the coverage of the White House meeting with Senators yesterday, meaningful action seems unlikely if the House of Representatives sits on its hands. So it’s up to corporate citizens to do the right thing (in this panelist’s opinion) — by offering some sensible restrictions when our lawmakers won’t.

The CVS parallel is apt (in terms of the impact on the retailers’ sales), but the positive response from shoppers without a vested interest in the issue may be even stronger.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Good to see that when our political leaders won’t lead on actions that the vast majority of the country all agree on, our business leaders will. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if everyone could get behind critical initiatives. Too bad that for the foreseeable future, imagine is probably the best we get.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This such an emotive and politically charged issue. However, retailers (and other businesses) have no choice but to be pulled into it because even a non-response is interpreted as taking a side or making a stance.

In each case, the response will be different, based on the company’s commercial interests and/or the views of its management and owners. And of course, as private entities, companies are entitled to take whatever position they wish.

Unless they do something heinous or gravely unjust, I refuse to boycott companies based on their politics. I find it petty and intolerant. However, others will take more of a stand and so Dick’s is likely to both lose and gain customers as a result of its decision. However, on balance, I don’t think this will do them too much harm.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I think the response is entirely related to where they’re located. Certainly in rural areas where hunting is common the needs will be different than in urban areas, and of course this makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a national retailer to have a policy that doesn’t create “sturm und drang”.

As for Dick’s, I think it will be a wash. A check on the NYT website shows no end of people suddenly pledging them their spending dollars, but I’m sure a check of the AJC or Daily Oklahoman would show just the opposite. This too shall pass.

Jeff Hall
BrainTrust

I respect brands who are clear in their values, mission and purpose. Dick’s Sporting Goods is showing brand courage and maturity in taking a strong position on such a polarizing issue. I applaud the company for very publicly showing what social responsibility looks like and how it informs their business decisions.

As others have commented, retailers who choose to sell firearms need to take a side on this issue, and one that first and foremost reflects their core values. I believe Dick’s is on the right side of history and other retailers will step forward with similar common sense policies.

Jeff Miller
Guest

Retailers and brands need to stand for something aside from quarterly profits and I commend Dicks and others for acting on this topic. I think all retailers should follow suit. Unfortunately I don’t think this will make much of an impact to number of these types of guns purchased because there is always another retailer down the road, online or at a gun show, who will take that sale and those dollars. Great job controlling what they can control and taking action.

Hard to tell how this will impact Dick’s as I don’t know how much guns add to the their bottom line or how [many] people will now try to boycott these companies versus a gain in customers who now see Dick’s in a new light. I imagine that might be a “wash” over time and shoppers will choose price, location, product selection and in store experience over political beliefs.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Retail industry thought leader
1 year 10 months ago

Responsible retailers, like Dick’s Sporting Goods, are not waiting for stronger gun control regulations to adopt more strict policies for the sale of firearms and ammunition. Many U.S. citizens have voiced their concerns on the inadequacy of current gun control regulations and we need to listen and respond with better processes that may potentially thwart potential gun buyers that have malicious intentions. Retailers’ self-imposed gun regulations is the right thing to do if states won’t do anything.
 
And investors supported Dick’s actions, as Dick’s Sporting Goods’ stock has rose about 1.5% since announcing its intention to ban the sale of “assault-style firearms.”  While they will have a reduction in firearm sales, the goodwill they receive from being socially responsible should more than offset the sales decrease.

Mike Osorio
BrainTrust

Given the exceptionally polarizing nature of this issue, I applaud the RetailWire editors for the courage to put this issue in play for our discussion group.

It is no small thing for a retailer who serves the hunting community to determine the appropriate policies to ensure they both serve their customers while not actively contributing to the gun related epidemic. I think most assumed the government would eventually legislate appropriately. Seeing that fail once again, combined with both the heroic response from students and the fact that their demographic is the future consumer for all businesses, Dick’s, Kroger, Walmart and I’m sure more to come will legislate themselves. Any short term financial hit (which I doubt will eventuate) is more than made up by the long term benefit of standing with the vast majority of the all citizens, including gun owners, who believe in these logical steps.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

This is a great position for Dick’s to take. Responsible gun owners will embrace this, and recognize that gun ownership is not just a right, but a responsibility and a privilege. Just like free speech, you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater, any time you like. Ownership for guns should be treated like cars, with state controls that require previous training, licensing, insurance and regular updates in order to own and handle guns. We require a lengthy period for driver’s license approval, plus regular insurance requirements, and car inspections. Why not require the same level of training, certification, insurance and annual inspections?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Retailers make decisions about what they sell, and the move by Dick’s sends a strong message about where they stand on this issue."
"I believe Dick’s is on the right side of history and other retailers will step forward with similar common sense policies."
"Retailers and brands need to stand for something aside from quarterly profits and I commend Dicks and others for acting on this topic."

Take Our Instant Poll

Will Dick’s Sporting Goods ultimately gain or lose more customers as a result of its decision regarding firearm sales in its stores?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...