"Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so," Target interim CEO John Mulligan said in a statement published by Target's in-house online magazine on Wednesday. "But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law."
Mulligan acknowledged what he called a "complicated issue," but said that, ultimately, he believes that guns in the stores "creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create."
With the move, Target became the latest in a recent flurry of retail chains to ban guns in its stores. Target stores, particularly in Texas, had in recent months become the focus of both guns rights and gun control activists, and both sides had used the stores and their parking lots as stages for gatherings and demonstrations. The Michael Bloomberg-backed group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, which had been calling for Target to explicitly keep guns out of its stores, took credit for Target's decision on Wednesday.
"Moms are thankful that Target responded quickly to the call of nearly 400,000 Americans and asked customers to keep their firearms at home,” Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said in an emailed statement. “Moms everywhere were horrified to see images of people carrying loaded assault rifles down the same aisles where we shop for diapers and toys. Like Chipotle, Starbucks, Facebook, Jack in the Box, Sonic, and Chili’s, Target recognized that moms are a powerful customer base and political force – and you can respect the 2nd Amendment and the safety of customers at the same time.”
On the other side of the fight was, most notably, Open Carry Texas, a group which has gained notoriety for its armed demonstrations where members call attention to Texas' ban on the open carry of handguns by (legally) carrying rifles in public. As recently as a few weeks ago, Open Carry Texas was lauding Target for not coming out against guns in its stores.
"Thank you, Target, for not taking a position and allowing state law to dictate policy," the group said in a Facebook post last month. "We in Open Carry Texas will continue to refrain from taking long arms into your businesses, but will continue spending our money there."
Open Carry Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM on Wednesday.
Read Target interim CEO John Mulligan's full statement:
The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.
As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.
We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.
This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.
(h/t Huffington Post)
This post will be updated.