Falling into line: Three more retailers prohibit "open carry"

Falling into line: Three more retailers prohibit "open carry"

Three more retail businesses followed the lead of Kroger and Walmart Thursday in the prohibition of open carry in their stores. Walgreens, CVS, and Wegmans are joining in to combat a problem that doesn’t really exist.


All of them will exempt law enforcement officers from the new restriction, just as Kroger and Walmart decided to do. The retailers don’t want to get left behind in the rush to “do something”.

“We support the efforts of individuals and groups working to prevent gun violence, and continually review our policies and procedures to ensure our stores remain a safe environment,” CVS said in a statement.

The emotional responses to recent mass shootings set into motion renewed efforts from special interest groups to demand corporate activism. Moms Demand Action, a campaign sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund (largely funded by Mike Bloomberg), was quick to applaud the announcements.

The moms demand more action, though, and are pressuring other stores to join in. They claim that it will make women (the majority of the retailers’ customers) safer as they shop. The Twitter feed of Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, is full of calls for specific stores to join in. Her tweets include email addresses and phone numbers to help other activists pressure corporate decision-makers.


Watts says that stricter gun policies in retail stores are good for business, too. I’m not so sure that Dick’s Sporting Goods would agree with that conclusion.

“Prohibiting open carry sends a very strong cultural signal that companies are siding with the safety of families,” said Shannon Watts, founder of advocacy group Moms Demand Action, which has spent years pushing these and other companies to stop allowing open carry.

“They know their customers are with them on this … they want to be on the right side of history but they also know that these actions are good for business,” Watts said.

Apparently, the mere sight of a gun is too much for delicate shoppers in Wegmans.

Wegmans said in its statement Thursday that the policy is intended to keep customers and employees safer, and to help them feel more comfortable in its stores.

“The sight of someone with a gun can be alarming, and we don’t want anyone to feel that way at Wegmans,” the company said.

As I wrote earlier this week, this is a solution looking for a problem. Open carry isn’t common, even in gun-friendly Texas. Just as I said about being a Kroger customer, I’m a Walgreens customer and I have never seen anyone take advantage of open carry laws in the store I patronize in Houston.


None of the retailers are saying exactly how they will enforce their decision. In Texas, a retail store must post signs in English and in Spanish that state that store’s gun policy. Store management can ask a customer to leave or call law enforcement over violations to the posted policy.

It’s much ado about nothing. Concealed carry is how Texans and gun-owners elsewhere prefer to protect themselves and their loved ones. Open carry isn’t the smartest way to go. The gun owner can be overtaken by a bad guy trying to steal the weapon and it makes the person a walking target. It’s better to keep the bad guys guessing as to how many people in a store can stop them.

Special interest groups – the people making a living off lobbying corporations to become involved in cultural debates in the political arena – tout new restrictions on gun rights as progress. This way of thinking emboldens talk of gun confiscation, as we see in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary. Leftists no longer hesitate to admit that yes, straight up door – to – door confiscation is the goal to eliminate guns in America if buyback efforts fail. They will. (Looking at you, Beto.)

Consumer reaction is yet to be measured. The retailers are not yet calling for a full ban on open carry, just asking customers not to do it. Putting an employee making minimum wage in a situation of enforcing an open gun ban isn’t something store managers want to do.

Starbucks, Wendy’s and Target have already asked customers not to openly carry guns in stores unless they’re law enforcement officers. But the retailers have stopped short of introducing an outright ban because they say they don’t want to put employees in confrontational situations. Ken Perkins, president of research firm RetailMetrics, says retailers can’t have their workers, who get paid $15 an hour, trying to pry a gun away from an armed shopper.


Chances are, if a person open carries, he or she also has a concealed carry license. A customer could just move the gun to a handbag or other discrete spot. The gun is still in the store, in the customer’s possession, just not in sight. Aggressive confiscation by an employee wouldn’t be necessary. Or, the customer could just leave the store and the retailer loses the sale.

The irony is that more restrictions or laws wouldn’t have stopped the recent mass shootings. The gun control alarmists know this. Laws have to be enforced to work. People failing background checks – like the Odessa shooter – go to other sources for a weapon. Cooler heads and rational law-making to address the actions of madmen has to overrule the demands of opportunists.

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