- Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest sports retailers in the US, says it will stop selling assault-style weapons and will require gun buyers to be at least 21 years old.
- The CEO said the company was “disturbed and upset” by the shooting earlier this month in Parkland, Florida.
- The 19-year-old suspect in the shooting legally bought a gun from Dick’s in November.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest sports retailers in the US, will stop selling assault-style weapons and will require gun buyers to be at least 21 years old, the company’s CEO, Ed Stack, announced Wednesday morning.
“We’re staunch supporters of the Second Amendment – I’m a gun owner myself,” Stack said on “Good Morning America.” “We don’t want to be a part of this story, and we have eliminated these guns permanently.”
In November, Dick’s sold a gun to Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, though a different gun was used in the shooting, according to The New York Times.
“Following all of the rules and laws, we sold a gun to the Parkland shooter in November of 2017,” Dick’s said in a letter to customers posted on its Facebook page. “It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting. But it could have been.”
The shooting has brought about a national debate about guns in the US.
“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” Stack told The Times. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us.”
In conversations with the media and on social media, survivors of the shooting have urged politicians to pass gun-control regulations and companies to cut ties with the National Rifle Association. More than a dozen companies– including Hertz, United, and Delta – have recently severed ties with the gun-lobbying group.
Dick’s suspended sales of assault-style rifles from its stores in 2012 after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the company soon after began selling the type of AR-15 semiautomatic rifle that was used in the shooting at a new hunting and fishing chain called Field & Stream.
The new policies on assault-style weapons will primarily impact the roughly 30 Field & Stream stores across the US, as traditional Dick’s locations did not bring the firearms back into stores.
This time, Stack told The Times, the decision to stop selling assault-style weapons would be permanent.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones,” the company wrote on Facebook. “But thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.”
Companies that have severed ties with the NRA have faced immediate backlash from the right. Gun-rights proponents quickly began flooding Dick’s social-media accounts with criticism of the new policies.
“I will never spend another dime in your store,” one comment said. Not all the feedback was critical, however.
“Thank you for demonstrating the change we need to see,” another comment said.
Here’s the full statement from Dick’s:
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.
But thoughts and prayers are not enough.
We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organising and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country.
We have heard you. The nation has heard you.
We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognise and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens. But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.
Following all of the rules and laws, we sold a shotgun to the Parkland shooter in November of 2017. It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting. But it could have been.
Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens.
We believe it’s time to do something about it.
Beginning today, DICK’S Sporting Goods is committed to the following:
We will no longer sell assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles. We had already removed them from all DICK’S stores after the Sandy Hook massacre, but we will now remove them from sale at all 35 Field & Stream stores.
- We will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age.
- We will no longer sell high capacity magazines.
- We never have and never will sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
At the same time, we implore our elected officials to enact common sense gun reform and pass the following regulations:
- Ban assault-style firearms
- Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21
- Ban high capacity magazines and bump stocks
- Require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law
- Ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms
- Close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks
We hope others join us in this effort to let our kids know that their pleas are being taken seriously.
Some will say these steps can’t guarantee tragedies like Parkland will never happen again. They may be correct – but if common sense reform is enacted and even one life is saved, it will have been worth it.
We deeply believe that this country’s most precious gift is our children. They are our future. We must keep them safe.