3 Massive Retailers Have Changed Their Gun Sale Policies—Here's Why It Matters

Updated 03/06/18
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Update, March 2, 2018: It seems that Dick's Sporting Goods started a mini revolution in the fight against gun violence when it announced a revised gun sale policy this past Wednesday. As The New York Times and CNN report, both Walmart and L.L.Bean have followed in the sporting goods store's footsteps, outlining new gun sale rules in response to the Parkland, Florida, shooting.

While Dick's will no longer sell assault-style weapons or high-capacity magazines and raised the age limit from 18 to 21, Walmart, which eliminated the sale of assault-style weapons in 2015, will no longer sell any gun to anyone under the age of 21. It has also eliminated the sale of toys and air-soft guns that resemble assault-style rifles. L.L.Bean has also raised the age limit for guns and ammunition to 21 in response to a tweet yesterday asking the company to review its policy.

These changes are small, as all three retailers still sell guns in some capacity. But the sheer size of each respective company is what makes their actions impactful. The Times called Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods "two of the nation's leading gun sellers," with Walmart claiming the number one spot, while L.L.Bean is yet another high-profile retailer, with over 100 store locations on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Their actions also illuminate the chasm between what the growing majority of our nation seems to want in regard to gun regulation and what our representatives are willing to do. In this instance, "representatives" is a term that should be used loosely, as it seems they more accurately represent the interests of the NRA than those of the people. In response, school shooting survivors and large-scale chains are forced to take matters into their own hands in lieu of any legislative action on Capitol Hill. Head over to the The New York Times for more.

February 28, 2018: Today, Dick's Sporting Goods took to Facebook to share its formal statement on the February 14 Florida shooting. The company admits that it sold a shotgun to the Parkland shooter in November of 2017, and while it was not the gun he ultimately used in the massacre, this fact alone was enough for the retailer to change its gun sale policies. Starting today, Dick's Sporting Goods will no longer sell any assault-style rifles in its stores or 35 Field & Stream locations, will terminate the sale of high-capacity magazines, and will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age. This is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate, reports The New York Times.

"We hope others join us in this effort to let our kids know that their pleas are being taken seriously," the statement reads. "Some will say these steps can't guarantee tragedies like Parkland will never happen again. They may be correct—but if common sense reform is enacted and even one life is saved, it will have been worth it. We deeply believe that this country's most precious gift is our children. They are our future. We must keep them safe."

While this is one large chain in a sea of thousands of gun retailers, Dick's decision to change its business policies in response to a mass shooting is exactly the kind of action we need. Statements like this, however small, help to chip away at the pro-gun culture that allows mass shootings to happen in the first place. If we can't seem to enact change at a legislative level, at least we can encourage other nationwide sporting goods stores to revisit their gun policies—it's one way we can attempt to reclaim control over the situation.

It's important to remember that money is power; nothing encapsulates that truth more than the National Rifle Association's outsized influence on American politics. While we as everyday consumers may not have millions of dollars to hold politicians to our personal agendas, we can still spend our money in a way that reflects our values, even when it comes to something as small as where we purchase our kids' new basketball shoes. If we all pledge to align our bank statements with our beliefs, perhaps we can enact change, however small. View these seemingly trivial transactions for what they are: small instances of nuanced activism.

Head over to Dick's Sporting Goods for its entire statement.

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