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Activists Demand Kroger Ban Open Carry in Stores

An activist group is pressuring the nation’s largest traditional grocer to prohibit the open carry of firearms in its supermarkets.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has launched a national campaign calling on executives at The Kroger Co. to ban open carry at its stores. The Indianapolis-based group argues the move is necessary as a response to pro-gun activists’ demonstrations at stores in open-carry states, as well as incidents of violence involving firearms that happened to take place at or around Kroger stores.

In response, Kroger noted that its official corporate policy is to adhere to all state and local laws of the areas in which its stores are located, and does not want to force its associates to confront customers legally carrying firearms.

Group Says Open Carry Promotes Violence

“The history of shootings at Kroger stores underscores the risk of allowing open carry demonstrations and rallies to continue,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which claims success with similar petition drives aimed at Target, Starbucks and other businesses. “It’s impossible for any employee to ascertain the intentions of an individual carrying an assault rifle — and given the potentially deadly outcome of mistaking a criminal for a protester, or vice versa, it is imperative that the largest supermarket retailer in the nation stands up for public safety.” 

To support its stance, the group pointed to demonstrations by open-carry advocates at Kroger stores in multiple states “to promote their agenda of intimidation,” as well as to several shooting incidents at or near Kroger stores, including a June murder-suicide in the parking lot of a Marietta, Ga., supermarket.

“We support the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, but ignoring incidences of gun violence in and around stores and allowing demonstrators to open carry loaded weapons through the same aisles that our children pick out their favorite cereals is unacceptable,” Watts said.

Kroger Follows Local Laws

Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey said the grocer follows all applicable laws in the areas where its stores operate. Dailey pointed to Kroger’s official corporate policy, posted on its website:

“The safety of our customers and associates is one of our most important company values. Millions of customers are present in our busy grocery stores every day and we don’t want to put our associates in a position of having to confront a customer who is legally carrying a gun. That is why our long-standing policy on this issue is to follow state and local laws and to ask customers to be respectful of others while shopping. We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”

Kroger operates more than 2,600 stores under two dozen banner names in 34 states, where the laws vary widely, from state statutes down to individual municipal codes, Dailey noted. “It’s kind of a patchwork of laws,” he said. “That’s part of the challenge.”

Moms Demand Action boasts that earlier petition drives have convinced businesses such as Target and Starbucks to discourage open carry in their stores.

Starbucks notes that its appeal to customers is “a request and not an outright ban.” Target’s approach is similar, and the retailer has not empowered its associates to eject gun-toting customers.


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