Dick's Sporting Goods to stop selling assault-style rifles in all stores, citing school shooting
Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it will no longer sell assault-style rifles. (George Frey / Getty Images)

 

Dick’s Sporting Goods said Wednesday that it will no longer sell assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines and will not sell guns to anyone under 21 after the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 people dead.

The Coraopolis, Pa., retailer is also taking a strong stance on gun control, saying in its statement that “thoughts and prayers are not enough” and calling for elected officials to enact a ban on assault-style weapons. It will continue to sell other firearms.

“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,” company Chief Executive Edward Stack said in the statement. “But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us.”

Dick’s said it had removed assault-style rifles, also known as modern sporting rifles, from all of its Dick’s stores following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and six adults dead.

But Wednesday’s announcement now extends that removal to all 35 of its Field and Stream outdoor sporting goods stores, which are largely concentrated from Texas eastward.

Stack said on “Good Morning America” that Dick’s is prepared for any potential backlash, but will never allow the sale of such guns in its stores again.

Dick’s also said a review of its records found that it sold a shotgun in November to Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

On Wednesday, classes at the high school resumed for the first time since the shooting.

Stack noted in the statement that the shotgun was sold to Cruz “following all of the rules and laws,” and that this was not the gun, or the type of gun, that Cruz used in the shooting. “But it could have been,” Stack noted.

“Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens,” he said. “”We believe it’s time to do something about it.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods is a rapidly growing sporting goods retailer in a sector where other chains such as Sport Chalet and Sports Authority have stumbled. As of January 2017, Dick’s operated 797 stores in 47 states, including 52 in California. The retailer has its own Dick’s branded stores, as well as specialty stores, such as Golf Galaxy.

It’s unclear how many assault-style weapons have been sold at Dick’s stores. The retailer reports sales in categories such as footwear and apparel in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but has never broken out its hunting business, which includes guns and ammunition, according to Christopher Svezia, senior vice president of equity research at Wedbush Securities.

However, he estimated that hunting makes up just under 10% of the retailer’s sales, with guns and ammunition making up a large part of that.

Gun and ammunition sales have been in decline throughout most of last year, largely due to the Trump administration’s stance on regulation, Svezia said. Typically gun sales rise when there is a fear there may be new regulations that would curb firearm ownership, something that was seen during the Obama administration.

With that in mind, along with the fact that the Field and Stream stores make up just a small number of the overall Dick’s footprint, Svezia said Dick’s decision could have a “little bit of a negative impact” for the company, but it would likely be muted.

While guns that have been pulled from the racks at Dick’s stores are not typically used for hunting, the company has entered an intense national conversation that most companies steer clear of to avoid offending potential customers.

In 2015, Walmart Inc. said it would stop selling semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15, attributing the decision to lower consumer demand.

The gun issue has embroiled a number of companies since the Parkland shooting, from Delta Air Lines to FedEx. Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. is based just outside of Pittsburgh in a state where the first day of deer hunting season is an unofficial holiday for some families.

On Saturday, Delta said it would no longer offer discounted fares to members of the National Rifle Assn. traveling to the organization’s 2018 annual meeting. But the airline has faced a backlash for its decision, which came as Delta had been seeking a break on sales tax for jet fuel from the Georgia Legislature.

The state’s lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle, said in a tweet Monday that he would “kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA.”

In the statement, Stack called for elected officials to enact a number of regulations, including raising the minimum purchase age for guns to 21, banning high-capacity magazines and so-called bump stocks, and requiring “universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law,” as well as a “complete” universal database of people who are banned from buying guns.

Among Dick’s stores in Southern California are locations in Glendale, Pasadena, Torrance and El Segundo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @smasunaga

Courtesy: L A Times

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