A week after the devastating Parkland shooting in February that claimed 17 lives, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. decided to ban the sales of assault-style rifles and no longer sell firearms to customers under 21 years old.
The outdoor and athletic goods retailer — which sold a firearm to the alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz (albeit not the one used at the shooting) — also announced last month that it would destroy the rest of the weapons left in its inventory.
Now, major gun manufacturers are responding with their own boycott, cutting ties with Dick’s and its subsidiary, Field & Stream. O.F. Mossberg & Sons Inc., the parent company of Mossberg guns, said in a statement on Wednesday that it was discontinuing business with the Pennsylvania-based retailer after the latter reportedly hired three lobbyists in its push for gun control — a rare political move for a retail firm.
“It has come to our attention that Dick’s Sporting Goods recently hired lobbyists on Capitol Hill to promote additional gun control,” said Iver Mossberg, CEO of the firearms seller. “Make no mistake, Mossberg is a staunch supporter of the U.S. Constitution and our Second Amendment rights, and we fully disagree with Dick’s Sporting Goods’ recent anti-Second Amendment actions.”
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The same day, MKS Supply LLC, distributor of Hi-Point Firearms and Inland Manufacturing, also said it was ending its relationship with both Dick’s and Field & Stream.
President Charles Brown wrote in the statement: “We believe that refusing to sell long guns to adults under age 21 while many young adults in our military are not similarly restricted is wrong. We believe that villainizing [sic] modern sporting rifles in response to pressure from uninformed, anti-gun voices is wrong. We believe that hiring lobbyists to oppose American citizens’ freedoms secured by the Second Amendment is wrong.”
The decisions come a week after gun maker Springfield Armory denounced Dick’s for its hiring of lobbyists following the removal from and destruction of firearms at stores.
“Their position runs counter to what we stand for as a company,” Springfield Armory wrote in a post shared on Facebook. “At Springfield Armory, we believe in the rights and principles fought for and secured by American patriots and our founding forefathers, without question. We will not accept Dick’s Sporting Goods’ continued attempts to deny Second Amendment freedoms to our fellow Americans.”
In March, when Dick’s addressed its latest earnings report in a conference call, CEO and chairman Edward Stack said he expects the company to see a negative impact on sales after banning assault-style rifles. “Although [the response] has been overwhelmingly positive, there has been some negative pushback on this,” he said. “Some of those customers that buy firearms [from Dick’s] buy other things also. We’ve had some pushback, and we knew that was going to happen … There’s going to be people who just don’t shop us anymore for anything.”
However, a report by mobile audience platform Reveal Mobile found that Dick’s was seeing a surge in foot traffic just two weeks after making adjustments to its firearms policy, indicating that its stance on the gun debate is driving more visits from customers who support its decision.