Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the nation’s largest sporting goods retailers, announced Wednesday it was immediately ending the sale of “assault-style” rifles in all its stores nationwide.
In addition, the company said it would end the sale of high capacity magazines and would no longer sell rifles and shotguns to any customer under 21. Federal law currently permits Americans 18 and older to purchase long guns as long as they pass a background check.
The announcement comes at a time when the gun control debate rages on full-speed after 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14. Since then, students from the school have gained national notoriety for their gun control pleas.
What did the company say?
Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s, told the New York Times the kids had the biggest impact on him and the company’s decision to make a change.
He explained: "When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset. We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us. We’re going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and, hopefully, bring people along into the conversation."
Stack hopes that conversation includes politicians and policy makers in Washington. He told the Times he hopes Congress enacts "common sense gun reform,” which he described as banning “assault type” weapons, raising the purchase age for long guns to 21, improving the background check system to include mental fitness and banning bump stocks, which were used in the Las Vegas massacre.
What else drove the decision?
Stack explained that immediately after the shooting, his company sorted through its records to see if they had sold the Florida shooter a gun. They discovered they had — just last November — though it wasn't the firearm used in the shooting.
That discovery stuck with executives, Stack explained: "But it came to us that we could have been a part of this story. We said, ‘We don’t want to be a part of this any longer.'"
Still, Stack emphasized to the Times that his company still supports the Second Amendment and hunters, who he said were a major part of his business. He acknowledged there would likely be fallout over the decision, but his company is willing to accept whatever backlash comes its way.
"The whole hunting business is an important part of our business, and we know there is going to be backlash on this. But we’re willing to accept that," he explained.
"If the kids in Parkland are being brave enough to stand up and do this, we can be brave enough to stand up with them," he added.
But wait, didn't Dick's already stop selling 'assault-style' rifles?
Yes, kinda. After the tragic Newtown elementary school shooting in Dec. 2012, Dick's temporarily stopped selling all firearms in stores near Newtown, while suspending the sale of "sporting rifles" nationwide.
At the time, Dick's didn't clarify what a "sporting rifle" was, but the suspension included the Bushmaster AR-15 the Newtown shooter used and other similar rifles.
However, the company opened a new chain of stores in 2013 — Field & Stream — to compete with outdoor retailers like Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas. From the onset, the company began selling rifles in those stores that they had removed from Dick's.
According to the Times, Dick's is serious this time about implementing change. That means Field & Stream stores will also not sell "assault-style" rifles moving forward.