Dick’s Sporting Goods ends sale of assault-style rifles in stores

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Dick's Sporting Goods in Saugus, Massachusetts. (Photo: Google Maps)

NEW YORK (ABC) — Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., one of the largest retailers of its kind in the United States, is taking new steps to curtail the sale of firearms in its 700-plus stores, including ending sales of assault-style rifles and banning the sale of guns to people younger than 21, the company announced this morning.

“Based on what’s happened and looking at those kids and those parents, it moved us all unimaginably,” Dick’s Chairman and CEO Ed Stack said today on “Good Morning America,” referring to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 14 students and three educators.

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“To think about the loss and the grief that those kids and those parents had, we said, ‘We need to do something,'” Stack explained. “And we’re taking these guns out of all of our stores permanently.”

The move follows the revelation that Nikolas Cruz, the alleged gunman who killed 17 during the hooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, bought a gun at Dick’s 2017. It was not the gun nor the kind of gun used in the massacre, however.

“We did everything by the book. We did everything that the law required and still he was able to buy a gun,” Stack said of Cruz. “When we looked at that, we said, ‘The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that.’”

The new measures go into effect today. Aside from Dick’s, the Pittsburgh-based, publicly traded company also operates stores under the Gold Galaxy, Field & Stream, True Runner and Chelsea Collective banners.

Dick’s announced a temporary suspension of assault-style rifles from its stores after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 elementary school students and educators.

Assault-style rifles were later sold in the company’s Field & Stream stores, according to Stack.

When asked if there is a chance the company would in the future reverse its position on the newly-announced ban, Stack replied, “Never.”

In light of recent mass shootings, Dick’s, along with other gun retailers and manufacturers, is among the public companies that have come under pressure from some activist stockholders “to report on steps they’re taking to improve gun safety and to mitigate the harm associated with gun products,” Fortune magazine reported last week.

But the company is prepared for the backlash, Stark said this morning.

“We know that this isn’t going to make everyone happy,” he said.

Stack also pointed to the courage of the surviving Stoneman Douglas students, many of whom are responsible for mobilizing and organizing gun control rallies, marches and social media-inspired boycotts, when speaking about the potential for backlash.

“When we take a look at what those kids and the parents and the heroes in the school, what they did, our view was if the kids can be brave enough to organize like this we can be brave enough to take these out of here,” he said.

In an open letter to consumers, Stack outlined the new four-point policy, which is as follows:

– Assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles, will no longer be sold. Stacks noted that the company had already removed them from all Dick’s stores after the Sandy Hook massacre, but they will now be removed from all 35 Field & Stream stores.

– Firearms will no longer be sold to anyone under the age of 21.

– High capacity magazines will no longer be sold.

– And finally, “We never have and never will sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

In the letter, Stack explained, “We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens. But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America –- our kids.”

Stack, who said he is a gun owner himself, is also now calling on elected officials to take action on gun control.

“We don’t want to see the partisan politics where one side espouses their position and another side espouses their position and they actually never do anything,” he said. “We hope that Congress will come together.”

“This is a complex issue. It’s not just about guns. It’s about mental health reform, it’s around background checks,” Stack said. “We hope that they come together with the intent of really finding a solution to this problem as opposed to just talking about it, knowing that they’re never going to do anything, to just speak to their base.

Below is the letter from Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. CEO and chairman Ed Stack:

We at DICK’S Sporting Goods are deeply disturbed and saddened by the tragic events in Parkland. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones.

But thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organizing and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country.

We have heard you. The nation has heard you. We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens. But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.Following all of the rules and laws, we sold a shotgun to the Parkland shooter in November of 2017. It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting. But it could have been.

Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens.

We believe it’s time to do something about it.

Beginning today, DICK’S Sporting Goods is committed to the following:

We will no longer sell assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles. We had already removed them from all DICK’S stores after the Sandy Hook massacre, but we will now remove them from sale at all 35 Field & Stream stores.

We will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age. We will no longer sell high capacity magazines. We never have and never will sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

At the same time, we implore our elected officials to enact common sense gun reform and pass the following regulations:

Ban assault-style firearms

Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21 Ban high capacity magazines and bump stocks Require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law Ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms Close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks

We hope others join us in this effort to let our kids know that their pleas are being taken seriously. 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. Sincerely,

Edward W. Stack Chairman & CEO DICK’S Sporting Goods