Recognizing the potential controversy of the decision, the statement reads, “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.”
In light of recent gun violence, which has so often dominated national news, a number of groups have involved Target in the resulting controversy. Demonstrators in opposition to movements toward stricter gun laws made the news by openly carrying their firearms into Target locations, which they argue is their legal right. On the other side of the issue, activist group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America raised signatures in the hundreds of thousands, petitioning the retailer to issue such a statement. Founder Shannon Watts claims the move shows Target’s recognition that “you can respect the 2nd Amendment and the safety of customers at the same time.” The same group claims responsibility for similar requests by Chipotle and Starbucks for customers to refrain from bringing guns into their stores within the past year.
Where open carry is legal, Target has made clear its compliance with the law; Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder called the move a “request and not a prohibition.” As perhaps ought to be expected, this has resulted in a barrage of comments on the Target website pledging intent to defy the company’s request. Open Carry Texas president, C.J. Grisham, is quoted as responding to Target’s action, saying, “Businesses that have asked guests not to bring legally possessed, self defense firearms into their establishments have seen their employees and customers victimized by criminals preying on the openly defenseless.” Despite the fact that the company’s action is not an outright ban, many supporters of firearm rights are sorely disappointed.
As is always the case, such a volatile issue sparked thousands of vehement comments on various websites. Posting on both the Target blog, as well as other news sources and social media, supporters on both sides of the gun control issue expressed their extreme approval or strong distaste for the company’s action. Among these were pledges both to make a point of frequenting the retailer and conversely, to avoid the stores completely. Whether Target’s request will win or lose customers in the long run is, of course, yet to be seen. Target Corp. stock, however, is up from yesterday’s close as of late afternoon.