NEW YORK — Dick’s Sporting Goods will immediately stop selling assault-style rifles and ban the sale of all guns to anyone under 21, the company said Wednesday, as its CEO took on the National Rifle Association by demanding tougher gun laws after the massacre in Florida.
The announcement from the nationwide store chain came as students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class for the first time since a teenager killed 17 students and educators with an AR-15 rifle two weeks ago.
“When we saw what the kids were going through and the grief of the parents and the kids who were killed in Parkland, we felt we needed to do something,” Chairman and CEO Ed Stack said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The change in sales practices, and the emphatic words from Stack, put Dick’s out front in the falling-out between corporate America and the gun lobby.
Several other major corporations, including MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines, have cut ties with the NRA since the Florida tragedy.
This is the first retailer to stop selling guns.
The announcement drew hundreds of thousands of responses for and against on the company’s Facebook page.
Dick Sporting Goods had cut off sales of assault-style weapons after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. But sales had resumed at its smaller chain of Field & Stream stores, which consisted of 35 outlets in 16 states as of October.
On Wednesday, Stack said that would end, and he called on lawmakers to act now.
He urged them to ban assault-style firearms, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and raise the minimum age to buy firearms to 21.
He said universal background checks should be required, and there should be a complete database of those banned from buying firearms. He also called for the closing of the private sale and gun show loophole that enables purchasers to escape background checks.
“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,” Stack said in a letter.
“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.”
The NRA has pushed back aggressively against calls for raising age limits for guns or restricting the sale of assault-style weapons. Calls to the NRA were not immediately returned.
It will interesting to see how this affects the bottom line in terms of dollars lost by the sporting goods chain.
Many have strong opinions about this issue with both sides vehemently defending their position. This issue is at minimum a complex web of several moving parts.
Mental health, bullying, and a reluctance of personal responsibility must also be addressed in order for this problem to have any real success at being resolved.