The familiar red tag from a pair of Levi's 550 jeans is seen Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005, in San Francisco. Levi Strauss & Co.'s third-quarter profit dropped 18 percent because of higher income taxes, but sales edged up slightly to put the jeans maker on pace to end an eight-year streak of declining revenue. The San Francisco-based company said Tuesday that it earned $38.2 million for the three months ended Aug. 28, down from $46.6 million at the same time last year. Levi's management attributed the decline to an income tax benefit that lifted last year's results. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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In an exclusive interview with Fortune, Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh put forth a message that many Americans who value their safety will find disagreeable.
According to him, he would prefer it if you would leave your gun at home or in the car before you made your way into a Levi's store to purchase clothing, even if laws in the city allow it.
“You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans and it’s really out of respect for the safety of our employees and consumers shopping in our stores,” said Bergh.
He also wrote an open letter from his LinkedIn page that elaborated on his stances.
With stores in Paris, Nice and Orlando, and the company’s European headquarters in Brussels, I’ve thought more about safety in the past year than in the previous three decades of my career because of how ‘close to home’ so many incidents with guns have come to impacting people working for this company.
Note that Bergh is not saying he is banning firearms from his stores, just asking that you not bring them in.
Many gun owning Americans would argue that many situations like the ones seen in Paris and Orlando could have been stopped had more people been armed. You'll recall that both attacks were carried out by Islamic gunmen with the intent to kill, and both were carried out in gun-free zones. The attack in Nice did not actually involve a gun, but was instead carried out by an Islamic radical running innocents down with a truck.
Despite his stance, Bergh doesn't believe this will damage his company's bottom line, as Fortune notes that Bergh "consulted Starbucks as he crafted his message, and concluded that most boycott threats around this topic ultimately blow over."
Despite fear that Bergh's shares with other corporations such as Target and Starbucks, gun ownership has seen a steep rise as crime has fallen. Just this black Friday after Thanksgiving, American citizens submitted record setting background checks, enough to suggest enough guns were purchased to outfit the entire Marine Corps.
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