Two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the nation’s largest sports retailers, is ending sales of assault-style rifles in stores. The retailer did the same thing after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, but its CEO says this time the decision will stick.
“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” CEO Edward Stack told the New York Times. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us.”
The Coraopolis, Pennsylvania-based company said in a statement released Wednesday and signed by Stack that Dick’s will no longer sell assault-style rifles. It will also end sales of high-capacity magazines and won’t sell to anyone under the age of 21. The company said it had never sold bump stocks, like those used by the gunman in October’s Las Vegas shooting, that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
Dick’s said it is also calling on elected officials to enact “common sense gun reform,” such as an assault-style firearms ban, a minimum purchase age of 21, and a ban on high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. It also called for private sale and gun show loopholes to be closed and universal background checks to be enacted, as well as a universal database of those banned from buying guns.
“We’re staunch supporters of the Second Amendment. I’m a gun owner myself,” Stack said in an interview on Good Morning America on Wednesday. “We’ve just decided that based on what’s happened with these guns, we don’t want to be a part of this story and we’ve eliminated these guns permanently.”
We at DICK'S Sporting Goods are deeply disturbed and saddened by the tragic events in Parkland. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones. https://t.co/J4OcB6XJnu pic.twitter.com/WmT50BO7mx— DICK'S Sporting Goods (@DICKS) February 28, 2018
Dick’s made the same announcement in 2012 but says this time will be different
Following the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 children and six adults dead, Dick’s suspended the sale of certain kinds of semiautomatic rifles. But the suspension wasn’t permanent, and such rifles were later sold at the company’s Field & Stream stores. Asked on Good Morning America Wednesday whether the company would reverse its position again, Stack said, “Never.”
Dick’s sold a shotgun to the Parkland shooter in 2017 “following all of the rules and laws,” it said in a statement. It was not the gun, or the type of gun, he used in the shooting. “But it came to us that we could have been a part of this story,” Stack told the Times. “We said, ‘We don’t want to be a part of this any longer.’”
The February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead has sparked another debate about gun culture in America and spurred new hopes that something will be done to prevent future incidents. The teenage survivors of the Florida shooting have emerged as vocal activists in the gun control debate, and corporate America has come under pressure to do something to help.
Multiple companies have cut ties with the National Rifle Association, including Delta, Hertz, and the First National Bank of Omaha, and financial firms such as BlackRock and Bank of America have said they will take a hard look at their relationships with gun manufacturers.
Stack told the Times that he was inspired by the Parkland students speaking out to take action at Dick’s. “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 said.
Perhaps this time the decision will stick.