In a post on the company’s official blog site, Target Inc. (NYSE: TGT) said that beginning July 2 the stores will “respectfully request that guests not bring firearms into Target — even in communities where it is permitted by law.”
The company acknowledged that “open carry” laws are a “complicated issue,” but that Target’s goal is “to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.” The company’s statement concludes:
Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.
Only six states — California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida and South Carolina — and the District of Columbia prohibit Americans from carrying an unconcealed firearm. There are 14 states that require a permit for citizens who want openly to carry a firearm. In the other 30 states, no permit is needed.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which supports open carry laws, initially reacted negatively to an open carry demonstration by advocates in Texas who bring their rifles along for a meal or when they go shopping:
While unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.
Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
The story posted on the NRA’s website was removed following complaints from members of the organization.
How Target enforces — or tries to enforce — its gun ban will tell the tale. Short of calling the police in the six states and D.C. where there is no open carry law, Target must depend on the goodwill and cooperation of its customers who want to pack a firearm. It might work.