At least it’s voluntary … for now. The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods tells ABC’s Good Morning America that his stores will no longer sell “assault rifles” at all, and no firearms sales of any kind to anyone under 21 after the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead. The store had become a focus for critics after police established that the shooter had bought weapons at a local Dick’s outlet, but not the weapon used in the shooting. Ed Stack tells George Stephanopoulos that he wants to “spur a conversation”:
The new measures, which go into effect today , were announced on “Good Morning America” by Dick’s chairman and CEO Ed Stack. Aside from Dick’s, the Pittsburgh-based, publicly traded company also operates stores under the Gold Galaxy, Field & Stream, True Runner and Chelsea Collective banners.
“We looked at what happened and we were truly deeply moved and disturbed by those events,” Stack said. “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.” …
In the letter, Stack explained, “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. 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.”
Stack admitted to “GMA,” though, “We know this is a complicated issue. We hope to spur a conversation.”
It’s a voluntary move, but Stack would prefer that Congress make it mandatory. That gets the admiration of Stephanopoulos, who calls this a “brave move,” but we’ve tried that before and it didn’t have any impact on mass shootings. Columbine, which was the first media-hyped mass school shooting of the modern era, took place while the so-called “assault weapon” ban was in place. Crimes involving long rifles of any kind make up a small percentage of all homicides.
No one forced Dick’s to sell these firearms in the first place, and they can sell what they want. Stack also says their stores will no longer sell high-capacity magazines, and that’s their right too. Customers for both of those products will likely go to smaller gun stores, which will boost their business. That’s how the free market works. Stack doesn’t actually provide a clear definition of either class of product, though, which makes this a little ambiguous. What qualifies as an assault weapon, and how is it differentiated from any other semi-automatic rifle? Scary attachments? How many bullets will Stack allow his customers to load into a magazine? Ten? Twelve? Fifteen?
Stack may run into some trouble with his determination to narrow who he allows to buy firearms in his stores. Refusing to sell to an adult under 21 years of age who would otherwise have a legal right to purchase firearms is age discrimination, and in this case explicitly purposeful discrimination. One can argue that a free market would allow this too, and that would be correct, but the same is true for bakers, wedding photographers, and anyone who thinks that a “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE” sign means anything legally. Public accommodation laws cut all sorts of different ways, and Stack may find himself the subject of a lawsuit if he follows through on his own arbitrary age requirement. Of course, we could eliminate all of those public accommodation laws and go back to a free-market approach, but something tells me that progressives won’t throw all those out just to protect Ed Stack.
Stack also has some demands from Congress in his letter to customers:
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
Quick: how many of the above would have prevented the Parkland shooting? Answer: none of them, not even the most on-point recommendation on the list, which is to include “relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law.” Nikolas Cruz would have found other weapons to use (including the shotgun he legally bought at Dick’s) and would have been as effective with them, considering the quality of the police response that resulted from his shooting spree. In order to disqualify a purchaser, the “previous interactions with the law” would have required law enforcement to have pressed charges at some point, which they had ample opportunity to do, and/or force a mental health evaluation that might have disqualified Cruz in another manner. Despite dozens of opportunities, law enforcement and the school district did nothing to mitigate the threat.
That’s the real issue, and the real problem to be solved. We have plenty of laws on the books already that could have stopped Cruz before he got started. Why didn’t Broward County, the school district, and the FBI enforce those? Ed Stack curiously doesn’t have much to say about that. Maybe he should stop selling to Broward County officials until they clean up their act.
Update: Stack explains in the interview that Dick’s wasn’t selling “assault rifles” in their main brand chain, and that the new policy applies to their other brands for the first time. However, that raises another question:
If that was done out of respect for the Newton families, why did Stack start selling them in Dick’s other branded chains afterward? This looks suspiciously like Stack wants to eat his cake and have it, too.