Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart took steps Wednesday to restrict gun sales, adding two retail heavyweights to the growing rift between corporate America and the gun lobby. Dick’s said it will immediately stop selling assault-style rifles and ban the sale of all guns to anyone under 21.
The company CEO took on the National Rifle Association by demanding tougher gun laws after the massacre in Florida. Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, followed late Wednesday saying it will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21. It had stopped selling AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons in 2015, citing weak sales. The announcements from the major national retailers 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,” Dick’s Chairman and CEO Ed Stack said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Several major corporations, including MetLife, Hertz and Delta Air Lines, have cut ties with the NRA since the Florida tragedy. None of them were retailers who sold guns. Sporting goods chain Bass Pro Shops, which owns Cabela’s, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Nor did the Outdoor Retail Association or Gander Outdoors.
The announcements from Dick’s and Walmart drew hundreds of thousands of responses for and against the moves on the companies’ social media accounts. 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.