The announcement was made today on Good Morning America that the athletic sports retail chain Dick’s Sporting Goods was altering its gun policy. The CEO, Ed Stack, appeared with George Stephanopoulos to release the company’s open letter announcing the chain’s changes to its gun policy. Going forward the company will no longer sell assault-style rifles, high-capacity magazines, bump-stocks, and it will raise the minimum age for purchase to 21 years.
Now these are perfectly fine standards to implement as a private company. They can choose to carry the stock they see fit for their stores. However the adulation heaped upon Dick’s seems a bit fervent. Take for example where they are hailed because, as they say, “We never have and never will sell bump-stocks.” So, we’ll praise them for banning a product it never carried?
The entire rationale behind the decision does not make full sense either. One motivator behind this was the revelation that the Parkland shooter (whom George and company were willing to display in file footage) purchased a gun from a Dick’s store. It was a legal purchase, and he cleared the background check.
That shotgun was not used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, nor was it the dreaded AR-15. In the statement Dick’s acknowledges this:
“It was not the gun, nor the 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.”
Try making sense of this. They hold up a gun NOT used in the shooting as proof, and that it somehow shows the flaws in the system. So, as a result, they will remove a different gun from its stores. Oh, and that gun that the shooter did buy — it remains on sale at Dick’s. But if the store sells it to a future shooter the blame will fall on “the system”, not the store, you see.
The company is going forward with the ban on what it dubs “assault-style rifles”. This shows right away that posturing and hysterics are at the fore. The AR-15 is not an “assault weapon”. That term is for fully automatic military-grade weapons, which have been banned for decades for sale to the public. The AR series of rifles by Armalite is a civilian-grade semi-auto, but this raises a few other questions regarding this decision.
Following the Sandy Hook school shooting Dick’s announced it was removing these types of guns from its stores. As Brandon Morse reported earlier, that magnanimous gesture — which had also been hailed in the press at the time — gave way to the company going forward to again make these guns available in its side brand of stores, Field & Stream. Follow up question: Why?
If this gun is so horrific why would a retailer be motivated to return it to sales shelves, albeit quietly so? Well, the Field & Stream stores are dedicated to outdoor and hunting customers, and despite the hysterics in the media and Washington the AR-15 is in fact used in hunting. My own Senator, Bill Nelson, who claims to be a hunter himself, has ignorantly demonized this gun as never used for hunting. Yet a company pledging to ban these very guns placed price tags on these 5 years ago, in its hunting chain.
Say what you will about the tendency of companies to come forward and openly decry the NRA, the Dick’s company, using questionable logic, is making a very dodgy decision here. Stephanopoulos asked of Mr. Stack, “Are you ready for the backlash?” While Stack answered in the affirmative his company may be making a miscalculation. Sure, for now, those companies that are getting free media stroking may see a benefit, but what of the long-term?
In August 2017 Dick’s saw its stock price take a dive when the quarterly report came in with revenues below projected estimates. The company cited the cause as a drop in sales from its hunting segment. With an already weakened sector within its model, how much sense does it make to possibly alienate that customer base, all in order to appease a vocal activist set that is going to have to buy a hell of a lot of yoga pants to make up the difference?
I think it is more than fair to ask whether this is Dick’s joining in the wave of corporate virtue-signaling. Especially so when this makes for the second mass shooting event that has led to the company making news, and getting PR, in direct relation to the events. Just be wary of any CEO who says, as Ed Stack did, “We don’t want to be a part of this story” to multiple news outlets while issuing a national press release to all available journalists.