“To think about the loss and the grief that those kids and those parents had, we said, ‘We need to do something,’” Chairman and CEO Ed Stack said on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” “And we’re taking these guns out of all of our stores permanently.”
The company will also no longer sell guns to customers younger than 21.
Stack’s announcement comes exactly two weeks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, during which gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people with an AR-15 — and swastika-marked, high-capacity magazines.
Cruz bought a shotgun from Dick’s in November 2017, which wasn’t used in the melee. Once executives found out, Stack said, they decided to make a change about how they did business.
“We did everything that the law required and still he was able to buy a gun,” Stack said. “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.’”
This isn’t the first time Dick’s has pulled back on assault weapons, however.
The Pittsburgh-based company pulled weapons like the AR-15 in December 2012, after 20 first graders and six teachers were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Dick’s started selling military-style weapons at its nearly three dozen Field & Stream stores, however, when they opened in 2013.
The publicly-traded company also owns the Gold Galaxy and True Runner brands.
Cruz, 19, was legally able to buy the multiple rifles he owned despite a history of mental illnesses.
The decision comes as major companies like Hertz and Delta Air Lines drop corporate arrangements with the NRA.
Walmart similarly halted sales of semi-automatic rifles in August 2015.
Stack said the company is a strong Second Amendment supporter, but executives also want tighter gun regulations — something survivors of the Florida shooting have rallied for in the last two weeks.
“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 on “GMA.”
Stack, in an open letter, called on Congress to embolden universal background checks, ban assault weapons and close loopholes for sales at private gun shows.
“We hope others join us in this effort to let our kids know that their pleas are being taken seriously,” Stack wrote in the letter.
He later acknowledged to CNN that the decision could impact the company’s bottom line, but opted to take the moral high ground.
“There was backlash after Sandy Hook,” Stack said. “We expect backlash here.”
The company is also within its rights to not sell firearms to anyone under 21, Stack added. Most local laws allow a person over 18 to buy a rifle, which reportedly allowed Cruz to buy 10 firearms in the last year.
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