Kroger joins Wal­mart in urg­ing shop­pers not to carry gun in stores

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Tay­lor Telford and Abha Bhattarai

Kroger fol­lowed Wal­mart in ask­ing cus­tomers not to dis­play their firearms in stores in “open carry” states, be­com­ing the lat­est big chain to re­shape its busi­ness around gun re­form amid a spate of mass shoot­ings.

The na­tion’s two big­gest gro­cers also are push­ing for tougher back­ground checks, bow­ing to pub­lic pres­sure that has been build­ing since deadly shoot­ings at Wal­mart stores in El Paso, Texas, and Southaven, Mis­sis­sippi.

“Kroger is re­spect­fully ask­ing that cus­tomers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than au­tho­rized law en­force­ment of­fi­cers,” Jes­sica Adel­man, group vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate af­fairs, said in a state­ment Tues­day to CNBC. “We are also join­ing those en­cour­ag­ing our elected lead­ers to pass laws that will strengthen back­ground checks and re­move weapons from those who have been found to pose a risk for vi­o­lence.

The an­nounce­ment came hours af­ter Wal­mart’s.

But the Ben­tonville, Arkansas­based re­tailer went fur­ther, say­ing it would stop sell­ing am­mu­ni­tion for mil­i­tary-style weapons and com­plete its exit from the hand­gun busi­ness.

The com­pany had been un­der pres­sure from gun-con­trol ad­vo­cacy groups, politi­cians and its own em­ploy­ees since the two store shoot­ings. Roughly 40 white-col­lar work­ers in Cal­i­for­nia walked off the job to protest Wal­mart’s gun poli­cies last month, and e-com­merce work­ers in Port­land, Ore­gon, and in Brook­lyn urged the com­pany to stop sell­ing firearms and or­ga­nized a Change.org petition, which has since gar­nered more than 150,000 sig­na­tures.

“In a com­plex sit­u­a­tion lack­ing a sim­ple so­lu­tion, we are try­ing to take con­struc­tive steps to re­duce the risk that events like these will hap­pen again,” Wal­mart’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Doug McMil­lon said in a memo to em­ploy­ees on Tues­day. “The sta­tus quo is un­ac­cept­able.”

Wal­mart sells guns in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores, but stopped sell­ing mil­i­tary-style ri­fles fa­vored by mass shoot­ers in 2015. But un­til now, it made up about 20 per­cent of the am­mu­ni­tion mar­ket. Now, that share could fall to as lit­tle as 6 per­cent, the com­pany said. Wal­mart will con­tinue sell­ing long-bar­rel deer ri­fles and shot­guns, as well as other firearms and am­mu­ni­tion for hunt­ing and sports shoot­ing,

In the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, school shoot­ing in Park­land, Florida, that killed 17 peo­ple, Kroger an­nounced it would stop sell­ing guns to cus­tomers younger than 21 at the com­pany’s Fred Meyer gro­cery stores in the Pa­cific North­west, then de­cided to stop sell­ing guns and am­mu­ni­tion al­to­gether. Dick’s Sport­ing Goods also banned sales of as­sault weapons in its stores af­ter Park­land.

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