Kroger asks customers not to openly carry guns in stores

CINCINNATI — Kroger company leaders requested customers no longer openly carry firearms into stores, even in states where open carry is legal.

The announcement came Tuesday, Sept. 3, just hours after Walmart officials made a similar announcement. Walmart leaders said the company would end the sales of some firearms and ammunition. Kroger stopped selling guns last year.

Leaders from both companies said they would lend their voices to the growing number of corporations calling on elected officials to pass gun reform laws, such as requiring stronger background checks.

“Kroger has demonstrated with our actions that we recognize the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms,” the company said in a statement.

As mass shootings have grown in frequency, death toll, and prominence in recent years, many big companies have faced pressure to address their role in the crisis.

After a shooter in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people in February 2018, Dick’s Sporting Goods officials announced they would stop selling assault-style rifles. At the same time, Walmart raised the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21. Kroger followed suit, ending all sales of guns and ammunition in 45 Fred Meyer stores in the Pacific Northwest in March 2018, citing declining consumer demand for firearms. The grocer had earlier stopped selling guns to people under 21 and pulled sales of magazines featuring “assault rifles.”

Walmart in particular faced pressure to stop selling guns after 22 people were shot and killed by a white supremacist inside a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.

In its statement, Kroger officials said they would be “respectfully asking” that customers no longer openly carry guns in stores, except for authorized law enforcement officers. It wasn’t clear whether or how the company planned to enforce this request.

Walmart officials said they would take a “non confrontational” approach to enforcing the new policy by putting up signs announcing the request outside of stores.

Ed Scruggs, president of gun safety advocacy group Texas Gun Sense, said a number of retailers in the state (where open carry is legal) request that customers not openly carry in their stores by posting large signs stating the policy in English and Spanish outside their stores. Store workers can ask customers who do not abide by the signs to return the guns to their cars or leave the store, Scruggs said.

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