Dealt a loss by Target on Wednesday, gun rights activists were trying to find a consolation prize. The retail chain’s newly announced policy asking customers to keep guns out of its stores is not a gun “ban,” the activists said. It was a respectful “request.”
“Open Carry Texas regrets Target’s decision to ‘respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target,'” Open Carry Texas, the group most associated with the fight over guns in chain stores, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “While this is not a ban on legally possessed firearms in its stores, we will continue to honor our months long policy of not taking long arms into Target stores or any other business.”
This is a distinction without a difference. In his statement on Wednesday, Target interim CEO John Mulligan said that the company had decided to “respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law,” and further added that “[b]ringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”
It is true that Open Carry Texas announced weeks ago that its members would no longer take long guns, like semiautomatic rifles, into corporate businesses unless they were invited to do so. The group had made a habit of stopping at chain restaurants during demonstrations, and the change came after several chains took steps similar to the one taken by Target on Wednesday.
In its statement on Wednesday, Open Carry Texas warned that “businesses that have asked guests not to bring legally possessed, self defense firearms into their establishments have seen their employees and customers victimized by criminals preying on the openly defenseless.” But the group said that its focus will remain on getting Texas’ gun laws loosened.
“Open Carry Texas is laser focused on our statewide goals of making Texas the 45th state to recognize the right to openly carry firearms and the 32nd to do so without a licensing requirement,” the group said. “Engaging in the businesses of interfering with or making a scene at private corporations is something to which Open Carry Texas has never lowered itself, a practice we will maintain.”