Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS), told CNBC this morning that the stores will immediately stop selling all assault-style and semi-automatic rifles in its stores. The company also will stop selling high-capacity magazines and will no longer sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local ordinances.
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) stopped selling the assault-style rifles in August of 2015. At the time the company said it made the decision based solely on lack of customer demand for the weapons. Fewer than a third of the company’s 4,600 stores even stocked the rifles at the time.
The decision by Dick’s to stop selling the weapons was made for different reasons, according to Stack:
When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset.We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘enough is enough.’ It got to us. We’re going to take a stand and step up and tell people our view and, hopefully, bring people along into the conversation.
Until the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, U.S. gun sales had been declining. Sales had risen during the eight years of the Obama presidency when there was considerable concern among some that the federal government would implement some form of gun control. The election of Donald Trump put those fears to rest, but gun makers have paid a significant price in lost sales.
Other sporting goods stores still offer the assault-style and semi-automatic weapons. Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. (NASDAQ: BGFV) offers 10 semi-automatic rifles on its website, including a .22 calibre assault-style version. Cabela’s, a sporting goods store that was acquired last year by privately held Bass Pro Shops, offers 118 semi-automatic rifles ranging in price from more than $10,000 to just $250.
Any legislation, federal or state, restricting the sale of assault-style rifles will need first of all to define what constitutes an assault-style weapon. The federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons that was enacted in 1994 and lasted until 2004 specified 18 specific weapons and three types that were banned. See Title IX of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 for the list.
Louis Klarevas, author of “Rampage Nation” and a faculty member of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, was cited recently in The Washington Post, “You would see drastic reductions in what I call gun massacres” if the 1994 law were reestablished. The Post illustrated his point with the following chart: