After the Parkland shooting in February 2018, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it was making some big changes involving gun sales. The company imposed an age requirement of 21 for the purchase of a firearm, banned the sale of “assault rifles” at its subsidiary Field & Stream stores (it had already banned them from Dick’s years earlier), and banned “high capacity magazines” at all its stores. Within weeks, the company began to see a drop in sales, and in months the situation was bad enough for CEO Ed Stack to start openly blaming some of his company’s financial struggles on its high-profile gun control stance.
Amid continued financial struggles, including an 11% drop in shares Tuesday, Dick’s announced that it would stop selling firearms altogether at 125 of its 729 stores, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Stack announced the decision in a conference call Tuesday. The “gun-free” decision comes after a successful test in ten stores that had been underperforming in hunting sales, Stack explained. The company replaced guns and additional hunting gear with “higher-margin, faster-selling categories such as licensed sports gear and outdoor recreation equipment,” the Journal reports, and saw an increase in sales. That increase occurred while quarterly sales overall dropped 2.2%. The additional stores that will no longer sell firearms likewise underperform in the hunting category.
Dick’s public announcement that it was taking action to promote gun control began soon after the horrific mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. Declaring that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Dick’s announced that it was changing its policies to curb firearm sales and began openly pushing for gun control policies.
“We at DICK’s Sporting Goods are deeply disturbed and saddened by the tragic events in Parkland. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones,” the company said in a February 28, 2018 tweet. “But thoughts and prayers are not enough. 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.”
Though the company stressed that it “support[s] and respect[s] the Second Amendment,” it called for more action to curb gun violence. It then announced its plans to raise the restricted age to 21, ban the sale of high-capacity magazines in all stores, and ban the sale of “assault-style rifles” in Field & Stream stores.
“It is clear we have a problem with the gun laws in this country,” Stack wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post the next month. “They are not squarely focused on keeping all of us safe — especially our children. There continue to be mass shootings — at our schools, churches and entertainment venues. Following each of these senseless, tragic events there’s a great deal of idle, fruitless talk in the halls of Congress, and then the conversation quickly comes to an end.”
Dick’s suffered a “rougher-than-expected” next quarter, sales dropping 4% overall, The Daily Wire reported in August. Among the key reasons: its drop in hunting sales.
“As expected, sales were impacted by the strategic decisions we made regarding the slow growth, low margin hunt and electronics businesses, which accounted for nearly half of our comp decline,” Stack said in a statement in August. “In addition, we experienced continued significant declines in Under Armour sales as a result of their decision to expand distribution.”
As the Journal notes, among the main reasons Stack says his company is struggling is pro-gun shoppers deciding to shun his stores.