NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) —Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart took steps Wednesday to restrict gun sales, adding two retail heavyweights to the growing rift between corporate America and the gun lobby.
Dick’s Chairman and CEO Edward Stack announced the policy change in a letter published on the company’s website. It was also posted on Twitter and to their Facebook page.
Stack says that the suspected gunman, Nikolas Cruz, had purchased a gun at a Dick’s store in 2017, but not the one allegedly used at the school shooting.
“But it could have been,” Stack wrote.
Stack said that the system that’s in place won’t stop sales to dangerous people and said lawmakers must do something.
“Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens,” Stack wrote. “We believe it’s time to do something about it.”
Stack said Dick’s is prepared for any potential backlash, but will not change its policies on gun sales. He ended the letter by stating his support for “common sense gun reform.” Measures he called for included banning assault-style firearms, raising the minimum age to purchase guns to 21, banning bump stocks, requiring universal background checks, establishing a database of people banned from purchasing firearms, and closing the online and gun show sale loophole that circumvents background checks.
“Some will say these steps can’t guarantee tragedies like Parkland will never happen again,” he wrote. “They may be correct — but if common sense reform is enacted and even one life is saved, it will have been worth it.”
Military-style weapons haven’t been sold at Dick’s since 2012, but were available at their subsidiary “Field And Stream” stores.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo hailed the decision.
“In the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy, the American people are calling for action. And while the federal government shamefully does nothing, this state and this country will forge a path forward,” Cuomo said. “I commend Dick’s Sporting Goods, a member of the New York family, for their leadership in taking smart measures to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Founded in Binghamton, this New York-bred company is taking a principled stand and setting an example of responsible corporate leadership for businesses across the nation.”
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, followed late Wednesday saying it will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21. It had stopped selling AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons in 2015, citing weak sales.
Walmart said it was also removing items from its website that resemble assault-style rifles, including airsoft guns and toys. “Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way,” Walmart said.
Meanwhile, the White House is expected to roll out public policy proposals on school safety by the end of the week, as the gun control debate divides Congress.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)