Leadership at retail giant Target announced today it is requesting patrons not bring firearms into their stores, even in communities that allow “open carry” of guns. Target Interim CEO John Mulligan, in a statement posted this morning to the corporate website, said that while the company strives to protect the rights of individuals, they seek to create a safe and inviting atmosphere for shoppers and employees. This move comes after a month-long campaign by Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control advocacy group formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December 2012.
Mulligan, in his statement, says the issue is complicated, but the company feels that the presence of guns in their stores runs counter to the family-friendly experience they strive for in their retail operations. Target became the center of controversy last month when the organization Open Carry Texas staged rallies at Target stores in Texas, which saw gun-rights advocates browsing the retailer's merchandise with long guns slung over their shoulders. Prior to today, Target had no policy banning firearms from their stores, instead the company chose to follow local laws on the issue.
“Moms everywhere were horrified to see images of people carrying loaded assault rifles down the same aisles where we shop for diapers and toys.” — Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action founder
Moms Demand Action has successfully petitioned Starbucks, Chipotles, and other establishments to enact bans on weapons in their businesses. Their campaign urging Target to follow suit led to a boycott of Target stores this past weekend. According to Moms Demand Action, they have gathered more than 400,000 signatures on a petition addressed to John Mulligan asking the company to issue “gun sense policies” to keep shoppers and employees safe.
Last year, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America joined with Governors Against Illegal Guns, an organization formed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to form Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization seeks to reduce gun violence in the country by strengthening gun laws to include universal background checks and bans on large ammunition clips. It has produced a series of TV spots that include hard-hitting testimony from the families of gun violence victims.