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Did Target really accede to ‘Moms Demand Social Prejudice?’

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The anti-gun Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDA) is doing a victory dance following today’s “respectful request” by Target that customers not bring firearms into their stores, even in states where it is legal, but is this really a defeat for armed citizens, or a hollow victory for an organization pushing social prejudice by proxy?

The controversy was ignited by an open carry group in Texas, where activists limited by the state law that prohibits open carry of handguns but allows the carrying of long guns openly, showed up weeks ago at a Target store. Opinions about the exhibition have been mixed in the firearms community, with some people siding with the Texas group and others suggesting they hurt their cause rather than helped it.

Target’s announcement came as the Washington Department of Licensing reported to Examiner earlier today that there are currently 461,211 active concealed pistol licenses in the Evergreen State. That’s a rise of 4,169 new licenses since June 2, and 11,679 more CPLs since the first of this year. It reflects the continuing rise in the demand for carry licenses, including a growing number of women.

It also came as activists circulated an MSNBC poll that asks whether people should be allowed to carry guns in public. More than 30,000 votes have been made already in the unscientific survey, with 82 percent supporting the right to bear arms.

There is considerable irony in Target's decision. The store's trademark is the bull's eye of a target, which is the centerpiece in firearms marksmanship competitions that have been held for a couple of centuries.

Today’s statement from Target interim CEO John Mulligan was not out of line with positions taken by other private companies that have seen their stores turned into political football fields. There has been no outright ban instituted, but the store has been put in a tough position by activists on both sides who might consider in the future making political statements on billboards or in newspaper advertisements.

Here is Mulligan’s 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.

By declaring victory, the Moms group is taking ownership of an effort that smacks of social bigotry against citizens who are guilty only of exercising the Second Amendment, some gun rights activists argue. That’s because this effort was not merely aimed at keeping long guns out of private businesses, but prohibiting even legally-armed concealed carriers from entering Target.

The safe bet is that millions of armed citizens will continue carrying concealed, while others will take their money elsewhere. As Examiner reported the other day, that could amount to millions of dollars that could go to Target’s competitors, who have yet to be intimidated by MDA’s demagoguery.

Is MDA using Target and other private businesses as its surrogate in a campaign of demonization against law-abiding gun owners? Will gun owners shrug and carry concealed in Target stores, or spend their money elsewhere? In six months, as stores tally their year-end bottom line, we may see the answer in black or red ink.

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