In response to the Parkland school shooting, the CEO of athletic retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, Edward Stack, told Good Morning America on Wednesday that his stores will no longer sell “assault-style weapons” and won’t allow anyone under the age of 21 to buy a gun.
The company also said it would end sales of “high capacity magazines” but the CEO did not specifically define what constitutes a “high capacity magazine” nor whether “assault weapon” meant the AR-15 specifically or several different styles of semi-automatic rifles.
“We looked at what happened and we were truly deeply moved and disturbed by those events,” Stack told host George Stephanopoulos. “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.”
The Parkland shooter did buy one of his guns at a Dick’s Sporting Goods, but he did so legally. Currently, federal law allows consumers to buy guns — including “assault-style weapons” — provided they are 18 years old and can pass a federal background check.
In a letter, released around the same time as the interview, Stack also suggested that Congress act on “common sense” gun reform.
— DICK’S Sporting Goods (@DICKS) February 28, 2018
“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,” the letter read. “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.”
Stack added that while he knows that gun control is a “complicated issue,” he hopes that making in-store changes will help to “spur a conversation.” Specifically, according to his written statement, he’d like to see Congress make the following changes:
- Ban assault-style firearms
- Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21
- Ban high-capacity magazines and bump stocks
- Require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law
- Ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms
- Close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks
There are a couple of problems with Dick’s sudden change of heart. Few, if any, of those suggestions would have prevented the Parkland shooter from obtaining and using the weapons he had — just as they’d have failed to stop the Las Vegas shooting and the shooting at Newtown and just as an assault weapons ban failed to stop Columbine.
Also, it seems, Dick’s Sporting Goods already removed “assault weapons” from its stores — back in 2012. There are still some Dick’s outlets that don’t sell guns — here in Chicago, for example, there are no weapons in any Dick’s Sporting Goods — but while but most Dick’s restocked their weapons departments just weeks later, and while its namesake retailer doesn’t sell assault-style weapons, some of the company’s smaller, proprietary chains actually never stopped selling guns.
When the furor dies down yet again, Dick’s will likely change its mind, and that’s their prerogative. It’s a free market and Dick’s choice to stock “assault-style weapons” in order to make money from consumers, and they’ll choose to de-stock the same weapons in order to earn the respect of C-list celebrities and Twitter activists. If and when it impacts their bottom line, expect their commitment to waffle, yet again.