— U.S. Firearm Rights (@usfirearmrights) January 14, 2014
After demonstrations by Second Amendment advocates who showed up armed at their stores, Target joined Wendy’s, Applebees, Jack in the Box, Starbucks and Chipotle in asking their gun-owning customers to leave their weapons at home.
“Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,” Target’s interim chief executive, John Mulligan, said in a statement issued Wednesday. “Starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.”
However, it appears Target’s request fell on deaf ears.
In response, Open Carry Texas, a gun rights group behind some of the demonstrations, said in a statement on its Web site: “Open Carry Texas regrets Target’s decision to ‘respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target.’ 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.”
Note that their policy is not to bring long arms into stores. That’s significant because it suggests the group still intends to do their shopping with handguns holstered at their hip.
Texas law allows gun owners to carry long guns in public, but handguns must be concealed. That the group is limiting itself to handguns will likely be little comfort to other customers, especially since Open Carry Tarrant County, a member group that recently split from the umbrella organization over its decision to stop carrying long guns in public, continues to show up at stores with both long guns and hand guns in plain sight.
Responding to Target’s announcement, Open Carry Tarrant County member Kory Watkins (pictured in above tweet), who happens to be running for Congress, wrote in a comment on Target’s Web site: “This is just to shut up the anti gunners. Going back to Target with my gun today and tomorrow and whatever days I want.”
Target spokesman Molly Snyder told the Wire that they are “requesting that people do not carry any firearms in our stores, including concealed carry. We will continue to follow local laws, however, concealed weapons are included in our position.” However, Target has no plans to actually enforce its request. The Wire asked Snyder if Target will ask a gun-toting customer to leave and she said: “Because this is a request and not a prohibition, we do not plan to communicate with our customers at this time.”
The reason gun rights groups were showing up with weapons in the first place is that they want to expand Texas’s open carry law to include handguns. They also want to “condition” people to feel safe around firearms.
But their tactics backfired. Target, Chipotle and other businesses previously went along with local gun laws, allowing patrons to openly display weapons in states where the law allows it. But when gun rights groups showed up with menacing-looking military-style assault rifles, it scared customers and prompted them to revise their policies. (Businesses have the right to ban guns on their premises, even in states that allow people to carry licensed firearms in public).
The controversy at Target started a month ago when Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a post-Sandy Hook gun-control group — the same one that shamed Chipotle and Starbucks into changing their policies — backed by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg started lobbying Target to ban firearms in its stores.
Today the group welcomed Target’s announcement. “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 group’s founder, said in the 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.”
— S R S P (@TsunamiDaisy) June 27, 2014