37 businesses tell customers to stop carrying guns in their stores


After shootings at Walmart and other retailers, Moms Demand Action has successfully pushed several of the nation's largest retailers to change their open carry policies.

Two more major grocery retailers announced on Monday that they would ask customers not to openly carry guns while shopping in their stores.

Discount supermarket chain Aldi announced that it would ask that "customers refrain from openly displaying firearms in any of our stores, except for authorized law enforcement personnel," and the grocery chain Meijer said that it would "respectfully request" the same.

These companies are the latest in a rapidly growing list of businesses responding to a push by gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action to get guns out of retail stores.

Two of the dozens of mass shootings last month took place in Walmart stores, including the tragic El Paso shooting. At the urging of Moms Demand Action and others, the company changed its policy on open carry and announced it would reduce its sales of ammunition.

The National Rifle Association slammed Walmart's decision as a "shameful cave" and promised that the store's lines "will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America's fundamental freedoms."

But a recent poll found that most Americans said they would be more likely to shop at a store that no longer allows customers to bring in guns. And, perhaps recognizing that the public is not with the NRA on this, stores have acted accordingly: The options for people who want to buy grapes while showing off a firearm are dwindling by the day.

In just the past few weeks, major chains, including Albertsons, CVS, Wegmans, Walgreens, Walmart, and Kroger, have changed their policies and asked customers not to openly carry guns in their stores.

Counting subsidiary store chains, the total number of retailers changing their policy over the past two weeks is at least 37, according to a count by Moms Demand Action. These stores join retail giants Costco and Target, both of which already have a no open carry policy.

The group is now pushing other major grocery chains, including Publix, Food Lion, and Hy-Vee, to follow their lead.

Frustrated, some gun rights activists have said they plan to simply ignore Walmart's request and test whether the chain will actually enforce it.

Not every retailer has responded favorably to the Moms Demand Action requests. Michaels has answered several customers who tweeted urging the company to go gun-free with a statement that it "follows local and state law and abide by the current regulations in place."

It's been a rough period for the NRA. In recent months, several board members have resigned in an ongoing dispute over the organization's direction. News reports have exposed the group's lavish spending on chief executive Wayne LaPierre, and ethical questions around board member and former president Marion Hammer. Last week, San Francisco's board of supervisors voted to label the group a terrorist organization.

The group angrily responded on Monday with a video featuring rank-and-file members — including a "certified pistol instructor" for the anti-LGBTQ Trail Life USA, a gunsmith, and a self-described "husband, father, shooter, and wine connoisseur" — claiming that they were not terrorists.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Publix also announced it would ask that only law enforcement officers carry guns openly in its stores, in response to pressure from Moms Demand Action.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.